[iPhone] Learn about your risk of diseases with Gene Screen

mzl.wvtlnish.320x480-75Gene Screen is a cool iPhone app developed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the underlying causes of certain diseases, this educational app can teach you about how genetics influence our lives.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Gene Screen contains lots of information about genetics, including information on some recessive genetic diseases and genetic screening programs. The app teaches basic lessons about genes, inheritance, rare diseases, and more. There’s even a map that shows populations which are particularly susceptible to certain inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and Bloom Syndrome.


  • Simple to navigate
  • Links to tons of additional resources from trusted internet sources and educational institutions (perfect for finding resources that are suitable for academic papers)
  • Quite the pedigree: Gene Screen was produced by the DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and was developed with support from the Marcus Foundation in partnership with the Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases
  • Interactive graphics and charts help users to better engage with the material


  • Library and maps of genetic diseases doesn’t include every single genetic disease out there
  • App hasn’t been updated since 2011, and has only been updated once since its release. Information included in the app is current only as of June 2011.
  • Some sections of the app seem to be quite short and lacking in depth
  • Design seems more like a Powerpoint presentation or book report than an educational, modern app


mzl.ynugkxhc.320x480-75Gene Screen contains a ton of information about genetics, making it a great app for high school and college students looking for some supplementary course materials. There’s even a punnett square portion of the app, which is a class way of seeing how likely it is that a certain set of traits will be inherited.

Because the app was developed in partnership with the Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases, there is a whole section of the app devoted to genetic diseases that are common among members of the Jewish population, particularly Ashkenazi Jews. These diseases include cystic fibrosis and Fanconi Anemia Type C. There’s a very cool tool that shows you a list of genetic diseases, and shows the odds of getting that disease if you have Jewish ancestry versus if you are a member of the general population.

Overall, the app is a little disappointing. It’s a great basic reference, but the lack of updated information is kind of a bummer. The app feels more like a project than an authoritative reference, which is too bad. It’s worth checking out if you’re a student or adult who just wants a refresher, but anyone who has more than a beginner-level of genetics knowledge will get bored quickly.

Conclusion and download link

Gene Screen is a great educational tool for introductory-level students of genetics. However, it hasn’t been updated in quite some time, and it lacks a truly robust, complete list of diseases which are linked to a person’s genetics. In short, it’s a great tool, but too incomplete to be a great reference app.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.1

Requires iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, iOS version 4.0 or later

Download size: 32.4 MB

Gene Screen on Apple App Store

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