Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Letter RE: "Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure” -- Wired Magazine

Sergey Brin’s quest to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease represents the confluence of two relatively recent trends: the internet’s ability to create extraordinary wealth for young technically minded individuals, and the introduction of personal genomics and its potential to forecast future illnesses many decades in advance.

As a medical scientists we can attest to the substantial costs involved in collecting large amounts of high-quality data; Sergey’s attempt to develop large-scal
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e datasets in his quest for a cure, at a comparatively low price, will be a boon to science. However, perhaps Parkinson’s disease is not the correct place to beta-test this new methodology for collecting large amounts of data.

Notwithstanding the obvious benefits to society, Sergey’s large-scale survey type of methodology might be better deployed initially on more innocuous ailments, such as headaches or the common cold. These and other less severe maladies have fewer external costs and repercussions: they do not require genetic counseling, obtaining informed consent is more straightforward, and the privacy issues are not as serious.

Dov Greenbaum, JD MPhil PhD
Mark Gerstein, PhD

Unpublished letter in response to:
“Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure”

BY Thomas Goetz
Features Section,
Issue 18.07
Published June 22, 2010
Wired Magazine

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