Hello, I’m Dan Wallace, founder of Dan’s DNA. I’m a Senior Lecturer and medical researcher at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. I teach molecular biology and genetics to undergraduate students and have been researching the genetic basis of disease for over 25 years. I came up with the idea for Dan’s DNA while preparing to teach a new subject “Genes, Genomes and Genetics” in 2017.
One of the major techniques used in research and diagnostic laboratories for studying the genetic material DNA and diagnosing diseases is DNA sequencing. This technique allows us to read the order or “sequence” of the 4 bases (letters) that make up DNA molecules. The original method, developed by 2-time Nobel Prize winner Frederick Sanger in the 1970s, is still in wide use today with some modifications. The output of a “Sanger” DNA sequencing experiment is called a chromatogram – it consists of a series of evenly spaced, coloured peaks, the 4 colours corresponding with the 4 DNA bases (A, C, G and T). You can read more about the science behind DNA and sequencing by clicking on the SCIENCE tab.
While preparing teaching materials I realised that there was no easy way of making custom chromatograms for my students to interpret. Hence I developed a way of producing authentic looking chromatograms to any DNA sequence. During classes the students interpreted chromatograms containing sequences from the haemoglobin B gene, a gene that when mutated can cause the inherited red blood cell disorders sickle cell anaemia or thalassaemia.
While teaching I also hid encoded messages in DNA sequence chromatograms as a fun exercise for students and it was this idea that sparked the first Dan's DNA designs that I call "Sangerisms". These are unique designs that incorporate messages encoded into Sanger DNA sequence chromatograms for printing onto T-shirts and other products. Check out the DESIGN tab to find out more about these style of designs. To understand them you need to know a bit about molecular biology and the genetic code - how instructions in DNA are used to make proteins (the building blocks of life) - you can read more about this in the SCIENCE tab.
New discoveries are constantly being made in science, especially in the field of genomics, and finding ways to distil all this new information and make it accessible to the public is a challenge. This is where Dan's DNA and SangerART can help. SangerART is a way of visualising the information encoded within DNA sequences or capturing important or meaningful aspects of DNA sequence in an artistic way. This is done by combining large DNA sequence chromatograms with visual images that when combined together have meaning. You can see some examples of SangerART by clicking on the ART tab.
Of course Dan's DNA designs and artworks are available for purchase and by buying one you are not only getting something really cool you are also helping to fund medical research at QUT. Find out more about where to buy Dan's DNA designed products or request customised Sangerism designs, SangerART or educational materials by clicking on the SHOP tab.
If you have any questions about Dan's DNA or the science behind it or have any feedback about this website please get in contact through the CONTACT tab.
Dan's DNA also has Facebook and Instagram pages. You can follow them by clicking on the icons.