Genes are the building blocks of life. They are behind your hazel eyes, your penchant for music, and your petite frame. Recently, science has learned that genes do not only influence our physical appearance but also play a role in our likeliness to develop certain health conditions.

There is a reason why your neighbors constantly mistake you for your older brother: genes. Genes act as a set of instructions that determine what an organism will look like and how they will behave. Genes lie in strands of DNA known as chromosomes, and each individual gene consists of a long combination of different chemical bases. It’s these combinations which determine whether you will have blue eyes or brown, or curly hair or straight.

Certain genetic mutations can make individuals more susceptible to specific diseases and health conditions than the general population. These genes and mutations are passed down through generations, which is why certain diseases and health problems can run in families. Innovations in genetics have allowed geneticists to learn even more about the human genome, and have revealed that conditions that were once played off as a result of lifestyle choices or poor luck were actually predetermined from birth. Click "view slideshow" to learn more.