Ever since DNA testing became a central piece of evidence in the 1990s during the OJ Simpson trial, these three letters have become one most well-known acronyms in the English language. What do the letters DNA stand for in medical terms? Surprisingly, most people don’t know the answer.

What Does DNA Stand For And How Do You Pronounce It?

What does DNA stand for in medical terms? DNA is the abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. There are two different nucleic acids that make up the different strands of DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the main acid. The other acid is ribonucleic acid (RNA).

What Is DNA?

Simply stated, deoxyribonucleic acid is the genetic code of a living thing. Every living creature has their own unique DNA and no one except for an identical twin will have the same DNA as you. Creative companies like 23andMe, DNA11, and AncestryDNA have found commercial uses for your DNA information including DNA testing and DNA artwork.

Image of DNA helix (Geralt)

DNA is a very tiny molecule that’s shaped like a double helix. Two biopolymer strands coiled around each other creating the double helix shape. The sequence that runs along this double helix is what makes up our genetic information.

DNA: How Do You Pronounce It?

What do the letters DNA stand for? Deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s is a mouthful. That’s why it’s more commonly known as just DNA. To pronounce “deoxyribonucleic acid”, break it down into shorter pieces: De-oxy-rib-on-u-cleic. What does DNA stand for? Now you know.

DNA In Pop Culture

DNA references are abundant in pop culture now. In Jurassic Park, scientists used DNA from a prehistoric mosquito trapped in amber to recreate dinosaurs. In the CSI TV series, forensic investigation teams use DNA to help solve crimes.

Even though DNA evidence first started being used in courtrooms in the late 1980s, it wasn’t until the murder trial of OJ Simpson that the concept of DNA was truly introduced to the American public. Back then, DNA was a tough concept to grasp. But today, not only do most people believe that the science was valid, they expect it to solve most mysteries.

Who Discovered DNA?

In addition to giving the world Velcro, the Helvetica Font, Swiss Army Knives, and LSD, the Swiss can also take credit for discovering DNA. In 1869, Swiss physician Johann Friedrich Miescher was the first scientist to discover something that he called “nuclein”. It’s actually a rather disgusting discovery story. Miescher found nuclein while examing the old pus from surgical bandages. But Miescher wasn’t exactly sure what nuclein was.

What does DNA stand for in medical terms? How Johann Miescher discovered DNA.
Johann Miescher discovered DNA while examining pus from bloody bandages. (Wikipedia, Lisafern)

It wasn’t until 1881 when a German biochemist named Albrecht Kossel identified nuclein as a nucleic acid. Kossel gave nuclein a proper chemical name, deoxyribonucleic acid. Over the next century, many other scientists made additional discoveries about DNA including its link to heredity and the famous DNA double-helix model we all know today.

All of this DNA research culminated in 1990 when the world’s largest collaborative biological project, The Human Genome Project, began. The international scientific research project successfully mapped over 3 billion nucleotides contained in the human genome. If only Miescher knew how much would become from his simple examination of old bandages full of pus.

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