When European researchers published the genome of the HeLa cancer cell line last month, they didn’t think to ask for permission from the family of Henrietta Lacks, the woman those cells came from—what some experts say was a serious ethical lapse. Although Lacks’s data has since been pulled offline, the incident has added to growing concerns about genetic privacy. How easy is it to identify someone from their genetic data? As personal genomes become routine, who will have access to that information, and what will they be allowed to do with it? And is there any benefit—for ourselves or for society—to making our genomes open books?
Join us on Thursday, 18 April, at 3 p.m. EDT on this page for a live Google Hangout on the scientific, legal, and ethical issues affecting genetic privacy in the age of personal genomes.
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Yaniv Erlich is Andria and Paul Heafy Family Fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His lab focuses on developing computational algorithms for human genetics. Erlich is the recipient of the Harold M. Weintraub Award, the IEEE/ACM-CS HPC Fellowship, and he was selected as one of 2010 Tomorrow’s PIs team of Genome Technology.
Misha Angrist is an assistant professor at Duke University’s Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and a visiting lecturer at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Angrist was the fourth participant in Harvard University geneticist George Church's Personal Genome Project; he has had his entire genome sequenced twice and made public. He chronicled this experience in his book, Here is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics (Harper, 2010).
Jocelyn has been a staff writer for Science magazine since 1995.