When incoming freshman descend on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley this fall — there will be a little something extra in their welcome package.
For the first time, school officials will be including cotton swabs for a DNA test, KTVU.com reported. The students will be asked to voluntarily submit a DNA sample, which one professor said will ultimately help students make decisions about their diet and lifestyle.
“We think that a big part of the future will be to understand how our own individual genetic variation contributes to our health,” Jasper Rine, a professor of genetics at the school, said.
Rine, who is overseeing the confidential process, said once the DNA samples are tested, they will show a student’s ability to tolerate alcohol, absorb folic acid and metabolize lactose.
As for students, reactions to the testing are mixed.
“I think it could be really exciting,” student Felicia Becerra told KTVU. “I would be happy to know.”
“I am skeptical,” student Andrew Pullin said. “I think anyone, who would have a big enough issue, who would want to know, would have already figured it out.”
Results from the laboratory will be put into a secure database where individual students will be able to see their results.
Supporters of the project hope the testing will excite students and help them have a more hands-on college experience.
"This type of experience is one of the true, unique values of a Berkeley education. We don't just give you books to read,” Mark Schlissel, dean of the division of biological sciences, told the news station.
“We involve you in cutting edge issues in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. You won't see this anywhere else in higher education."