Health Research and Policy


DATE: February 21, 2013
TIME: 1:15 - 3:00 pm
LOCATION: Medical School Office Building, Rm x303
TITLE: Widespread Clinical Whole Genome Sequence: Coming Ethical, Legal, and Practical Challenges
SPEAKER: Hank Greely
Professor of Law, Professor by courtesy of Genetics, Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences, Stanford

Whole exome and genome sequencing is already being used in clinical medicine - for children with unknown congenital syndromes, for some cancer patients, and even for the worried (but wealthy) well. The rapidly declining cost of genome sequencing makes it seem inevitable that this trend will grow when a decent quality whole genome sequence (WGS) is available for $1,000 $500, or $100, will routine use of WGS in clinical practice, or even for neonatal screening, be far behind? I expect, or at least hope, that WGS will bring health benefits, but I am certain it will bring ethical, legal, and practical challenges. This talk will touch on several important challenges that will need to managed successfully to avoid major problems with widespread clinical WGS: 1) sequencing accuracy, 2) interpreting the accuracy of the sequence, 3) legal obligations of physicians to sequenced patients, and 4) education and communication concerning WGS results.

Suggested readings:
Kelly E Ormond, Matthew T Wheeler, Louanne Hudgins, Teri E Klein, Atul J Butte, Russ B Altman, Euan A Ashley, Henry T Greely, Challenges in the Clinical Application of Whole-Genome Sequencing, THE LANCET, 375:1749-51 (May 15, 2010)

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