Monday, July 9, 2012

Letter to the NY TIMES Editor RE: Anahad O’Connor’s “Should Young Athletes Be Screened for Heart Risk?” April 30, 2012

The two recent articles discussing sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes (Crouse 5/1 and O'Connor 4/30)  raise real concerns as to the trickling down of some of the uber-competitive aspects of professional sports into college, high school, and even middle school programs.  With this intense competition comes substantial stress and the constant threat of disabling injury, already too prevalent in professional athletes.   While one article suggests screening for at-risk athletes, it fails to include possibly the most useful, practical and far-reaching tests.  Genome-wide screening presents an optimal solution: not only are costs falling perceptively, but screening can look beyond narrow risk groups, and potentially uncover predispositions to more common injuries, such as muscle strains, ACL tears or concussions.  This actionable data could be provided to athletes, coaches and parents and applied to change exercise routine and diet, and even to suggest to the student to look for alternative extracurricular activities.

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
Mark Gerstein, PhD

Unpublished letter to the editor Letter to the Editor
Anahad O’Connor’s “Should Young Athletes Be Screened for Heart Risk?”
NY Times April 30, 2012

Letter to theNY TIMES Fashion Editor, RE: Pamela Paul's "Don't Tell me, I Don't Want to Know" (2/10/12)

Generation S (S. for sharing) has lost sight of prior privacy norms, and now freely shares.  Some, as the title suggest, freely share all. Compounding the issue, the internet doesn't forget: so our embarrassing antics at the last holiday party will forever haunt us, remaining in some Google searchable archive of some Facebook page. The problem with all this TMI, forever seared into our collective hard drive, runs deeper than the emotional distress of seeing an ex enjoying themselves, even as we wallow in misery.  Sharing is trending to more than just 140 character snippets of the banality of our lives.  With the advent of digital medical files and easily available personal genomic sequencing,  the ability to easily share heretofore very private medical and/or genetic information could have serious consequences, particularly for the relatives of sharers, who although share common genetic information, might wisely not share this penchant for sharing.

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
 Mark Gerstein PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
 Pamela Paul's "Don't Tell me, I Don't Want to Know" (2/10/12)
NY Times, Fashion Section

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Letter to the WSJ Editor RE: Japan’s Nuclear Crisis

Two words strike particularly undeserved fear in the hearts of many
Americans:  Nuclear and Genetic.

Although the current situation in Japan will likely renew recently
thawed nuclear anxieties, perhaps this disaster will force us to
overcome apprehensions regarding genetic engineering in the pursuit of
better biofuels.

Japan’s nuclear woes round out a demoralizing 12 months for the energy
industry which saw 29 coal miners lose their lives in a horrific
accident in West Virginia and BP's offshore drilling rig explosion
that resulted in the death of eleven people and the biggest oil spill
in the history of the industry.

Biofuels, however, remain a safe and practicable energy technology.
No longer just rancid cooking oil in old diesel engines, current
efforts in the genetic engineering of non-food crops and algae hold
promising opportunities for biofuels as a truly feasible fossil fuel

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
Mark Gerstein, PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
"Japan’s Nuclear Crisis"
Wall Street Journal

Letter to the NY TIMES Magazine Editor RE: Micheal Sokolove's "The Fast Life of Oscar Pistorius" January 22, 2012

The author noted the term "mutant" as a descriptor of Pistorius.  Notwithstanding the pop-culture negative connotations, it is likely the best word to describe not only Pistorius, but also most superstar athletes today.  Current efforts in trying to understand the underlying genetics of sports will eventually lead us to embrace organized sports as unfair matchups between individuals fundamentally unequal in their biology:   Not to discount the incredible investments in blood sweat and tears throughout their endless hours of training, but the sooner we appreciate that nature has provided our current crop of superstars with often incredible unfair biological advantages, creating an already absurdly uneven playing field, the sooner we will accept artificially enabled but nevertheless gifted athletes like Pistorius onto that same field.

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
Mark Gerstein PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
NY Times Magazine Micheal Sokolove's "The Fast Life of Oscar Pistorius"
January 22, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

RE: The Wall Street Gene What makes a top trader? Researchers point to dopamine WSJ (02/04/2012)

Jonah Lehrer's tongue-in-cheek overtones belie the realities of genomics. As prices continue to plummet on DNA testing, science is able to correlate more of our outward traits with our inherited DNA. In particular, research currently suggests that we may be able to correlate athletic ability with particular genes. And even more valuable, we may soon be able to determine predispositions to sports injuries from genetic analysis. Successful athletes (and traders) already have a relative good understanding of their strengths; in athletes they are pretty much all we ever measure. However, the ability to prevent game, season, or even career ending injuries in professional sports will prove invaluable to those athletes that learn how to better take care of themselves and prevent those injuries. If only there was a gene that could make cats bounce higher post-mortem.

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
Mark Gerstein PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
Jonah Lehrer's "The Wall Street Gene" (02/04/2012)
February 4, 2012
Wall Street Journal

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The promise and peril of home genetic test kits" LA Times April 29, 2011

The recent Op-Ed regarding genetic testing is right - to some degree. The main concerns however, are more nuanced than just false positives or negatives. Rather, it's that the average consumer, and often even the average physician, are not able to effectively deal with the deluge of the genetic data provided by the testing services: most of us lack the statistical proficiency to grasp the varied risks assessed to the patient, or an appreciation of the highly personal and revealing nature of genetic information. With the growing importance of genetics in our lives, efforts should be directed at introducing these concepts to undergraduates --the future patients and their doctors, in a safe and controlled environment, as we have seen in some initial forays in this direction at Berkeley and Stanford.

Dov Greenbaum JD PhD
Mark Gerstein PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
The promise and peril of home genetic test kits
April 29, 2011
OpED, LA TIMES,0,5006081.story

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Letter RE: Miguel Helft and Claire Cain Miller's "1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web" NY TIMES

Helf and Miller suggest that current federal privacy laws are
outdated in their lack of protection for our online communications.
The laws are outdated, but not because they fail to fully protect our
email, tweats, and updates. Rather, in a society where our most banal
musings are instantly shared with the world, the law fails to account
for the societal shift that substantially devalues the privacy of most
things thought to be too personal twenty-five years ago.

Dov Greenbaum, JD MPhil PhD

Mark Gerstein, PhD

Unpublished Letter to the Editor
Miguel Helft and Claire Cain Miller's "1986 Privacy Law Is Outrun by the Web"
NY TIMES(1/10/2011)