A Prescription for Success: Drugs & Your Genetics *

Areas of Science Medical Biotechnology
Time Required Very Long (1+ months)
Prerequisites Basic understanding of what genes, DNA, and proteins are.
Material Availability After 23andMe receives your sample, your results should be ready in 6-8 weeks. Alternatively, you can do this science project using a readily available free demo account on 23andMe.
Cost Very High (over $150)
Safety No issues
*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.


Have you ever known someone who had a bad reaction to a prescription drug? Although pharmaceutical companies test new drugs on a large number of people to make sure the drug works the way it is supposed to, often a small percentage of people respond differently to the drug. A person's genetics plays a large role in determining his or her response to a given drug. Our genes are made up of hundreds to millions of nucleotides of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the genetic code. If just a single nucleotide of DNA has a mutation (change in the DNA sequence), a person might respond differently to a drug. A mutation in one DNA nucleotide is called an SNP, for single-nucleotide polymorphism. When pharmaceutical companies test new drugs on people, they do a genetic screening of known SNPs sprinkled across their genomes (all of the DNA in an organism) to see if people who respond differently to the drug have an SNP, or multiple SNPs, that are not present in the genetics of the people who respond normally. Once pharmaceutical companies identify SNPs that are associated with an abnormal response to the drug, doctors can screen their patients ahead of time to find out how they will respond to a given drug. This rapidly growing medical field is called pharmacogenomics. In this science project, you will investigate how your own genetics may affect your response to different prescription drugs.

23andMe is a company that can sequence your own personal SNPs and predict your response to drugs, based on your SNP profile. There are many other companies that offer similar genetics sequencing services, such as Illumina, PacBio, and deCODE. If you use 23andMe, after you have received your genetics results, under the "My Health" section, click on the "Drug Response" link. Have you, or someone closely related to you, ever taken one of the listed drugs and experienced the predicted response? For any given drug sensitivity test listed, you can click on its name and then the "Technical Report" tab to read about the specific SNPs you have.

How can a little mutation be associated with such a big response? You can investigate how your SNP mutations may be causing your predicted drug response by reading another Science Buddies Project Idea, Drugs and Genetics, and developing your own experimental procedure based on it. Next time you visit your doctor, you can show off your detailed knowledge of how drugs affect your body and possibly prevent a bad experience by telling your doctor which drugs you will probably react poorly to!

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.


Teisha Rowland, PhD, Science Buddies

Cite This Page

General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "A Prescription for Success: Drugs & Your Genetics." Science Buddies, 5 May 2018, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioMed_p005/medical-biotechnology/drug-target-genomics. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2018, May 5). A Prescription for Success: Drugs & Your Genetics. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioMed_p005/medical-biotechnology/drug-target-genomics

Last edit date: 2018-05-05


To do this science project, you can have your genetics sequenced here:

Here are a few websites that will help you start gathering information about genetics, drugs, and pharmacogenomics:

News Feed on This Topic

, ,
Note: A computerized matching algorithm suggests the above articles. It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Learn more about the News Feed


  • Instead of having your own genetics sequenced, you can do this science project by making a free demo account on 23andMe.

Share your story with Science Buddies!

I did this project Yes, I Did This Project! Please log in (or create a free account) to let us know how things went.

Ask an Expert

The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Ask an Expert

Related Links

If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:

genetic counselor sitting at desk with computer

Genetic Counselor

Many decisions regarding a person's health depend on knowing the patient's genetic risk of having a disease. Genetic counselors help assess those risks, explain them to patients, and counsel individuals and families about their options. Read more
female doctor talking to elderly patient


Physicians work to ease physical and mental suffering due to injury and disease. They diagnose medical conditions and then prescribe or administer appropriate treatments. Physicians also seek to prevent medical problems in their patients by advising preventative care. Ultimately, physicians try to help people live and feel better at every age. Read more
female cytogenetic technician looking through microscope

Cytogenetic Technologist

I have black hair, you have blonde hair. I have blue eyes, you have brown eyes. These, and other characteristics, describe what we look like, how tall we are, and even what our personality is, and they are all controlled by our chromosomes. Chromosomes are packages within each of our cells that hold our genes. Our chromosomes also determine if we might inherit any genetic diseases or if birth defects are present. Extracting, testing, and examining the chromosomes from cells is the job of the cytogenetic technologist. Cytogenetic technologists work with physicians to help diagnose and treat diseases and understand human development. This is a career in which you know you will be helping someone every single day. Read more
bioinformatics scientist evaluating microarray data

Bioinformatics Scientist

The human body can be viewed as a machine made up of complex processes. Scientists are working on figuring out how these processes work and on sequencing and correlating the sections of the genome that correspond to the individual processes. (The genome is an organism's complete set of genetic material.) In the course of doing so, they generate large amounts of data. So large, in fact, that to make sense of it, the data must be organized into databases and labeled. This is where bioinformatics scientists step in. They design databases and develop algorithms for processing and analyzing genomic and other biological information. These scientists work at the crossroads of biology and computer science. Read more

News Feed on This Topic

, ,
Note: A computerized matching algorithm suggests the above articles. It's not as smart as you are, and it may occasionally give humorous, ridiculous, or even annoying results! Learn more about the News Feed

Looking for more science fun?

Try one of our science activities for quick, anytime science explorations. The perfect thing to liven up a rainy day, school vacation, or moment of boredom.

Find an Activity