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Genetic Revolution Should Not Overlook Privacy Concerns

Maurie Markman, MD
Published: Monday, Oct 15, 2018
Maurie Markman, MD

Maurie Markman, MD
In the rapidly evolving arena of molecular medicine, which prominently includes genetic cancer risk assessments and precision cancer medicine, there are several towering giants in the room which, unfortunately, rarely receive the essential attention they deserve. These are the closely related issues of (a) ensuring privacy with the aim of absolute security of all collected genetic data and (b) the process whereby decisions are made regarding the actual use of an individual’s germline and somatic genetic information.

One can argue that the conduct of responsible research that benefits societal goals and employs DNA data should be encouraged, but meaningfully strong safeguards must be in place to ensure that intentional or unintentional uses of such data that may foster intolerance or divisiveness are neither encouraged nor permitted.

Potential Loss of Public Trust

One major danger in the documented abuse of genetic data through ill-conceived or poorly managed commercial or academic activities is the loss of individual and overall societal support for the potentially enormous value that thoughtful and scientifically valid examination of germline variants within the population can ultimately provide.
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