UC Berkeley's distribution of genetic tests to incoming freshmen follows recent industry scrutiny by the FDA and Congress. The current media focus on Direct-to-consumer genetic testing will foster a robust dialogue at Berkeley. However, while the genes tested are thought to be relatively innocuous, the results anonymous, and the test intended to be partially educational --preparing students for a personal-genomic future -- we fear it may be anything but. It may lull students into a false sense of security, both in the absoluteness of the results relationship to their lifestyle and the risk-free sharing of those results with friends. Unlike the genes tested by Berkeley, most gene-disease relationships are complex and couched in terms of complicated statistical probabilities Further, many of the student's future genetic tests will involve serious and potentially upsetting personal medical and health information that will affect not only themselves but family members that share their genes.
Dov Greenbaum & Mark Gerstein
Unpublished letter in response to various articles:
UC Berkeley plan to test freshmen DNA criticized, USA Today
SF Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/20/BAIS1DI09I.DTL
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