Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics

The Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics seminar series is co-sponsored by CIRGE and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. The seminar focuses on discussing a different classic article, topic, or case related to genetics and ethics, and its relevance to a more recent article or case. Anyone in the Stanford community is welcome to attend.

Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics seminar topics are below, and the full seminar syllabus from past seminars can be found here.

Session 1 - Safer v Pack,  Pate v Threlkel, Ande v Rock        

Session 2 - Greenberg v Miami Children's Hospital

Session 3 - Beleno v Texas Dept. of State Health Services

Session 4 - Washington University v Catalona

Session 5 - EEOC v Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad

Session 6 - Diamond v Chakrabarti, ACLU v Myriad

Session 7 - Havasupai v Arizona Board of Regents

Session 8 - Genetic Determinism

Lewontin, RC. Biology as Ideology: the Doctrine of DNA. Anansi Press Limited, 1991. Reprinted by arrangement with Stoddart Publishing Company Limited.

Session 9 - Genetic Exceptionalism

Murray, Thomas H. Genetic Exceptionalism and “Future Diaries”: Is Genetic Information Different from Other Medical Information? in Genetic Secrets: Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality in the Genetic Era, ed. M. Rothstein (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).

Session 10 - Privacy of Genetic Research

Botkin, JR. Protecting the Privacy of Family Members in Survey and Pedigree Research. 2001 JAMA 285(2):207-211.

Session 11 - Bermuda Principles

  • Summary of the Report of the Second International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing. Bermuda 27th February – 2nd March 1997. Sponsored by the Wellcome Trust.
  • Reaffirmation and Extension of NHGRI Rapid Data Release Policies: Large-scale Sequencing and Other Community Resource Projects. February 2003, available at

Session 12 - Reproductive Rights

  • Griswold v Connecticut
  • Planned Parenthood v Casey
  • Roe v Wade
  • Skinner v Oklahoma ex rel Williamson
  • Robertson, John A. Genetic Selection of Offspring Characteristics. 1996Boston University Law Review 76:421-482.

Session 13 - Model Ethical Protocol

Human Genome Diversity Project. Model Ethical Protocol for Collecting DNA Samples North American Regional Committee Human Genome Diversity Project. 1997 Houston Law Review 33(5):1431-1473.

Session 14 - Biopiracy

Magnus D. Intellectual Property and Agricultural Biotechnology: Bioprospecting or Biopiracy? in Who Owns Life? eds. D. Magnus, A. Caplan, & G. McGee (New York: Prometheus Books, 2002).

Session 15 - Incidental Findings

Wolf SM et al. Managing Incidental Findings in Human Subjects Research: Analysis and Recommendations. 2008 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Summer: 219-248.

Session 16 - GINA

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Available at

Session 17 - Asilomar

  • Berg P et al. Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 72(6):1981-1984, June 1975.
  • Singer M. What Did the Asilomar Exercise Accomplish, What Did It Leave Undone? 2001 Perspectives in biology and medicine. 44(2): Spring 186-191.

Session 18 - Human Gene Therapy

Walters L. Human Gene Therapy: Ethics and Public Policy. 1991 Human Gene Therapy 2:115-122.

Session 19 - Informed Consent & Biobanks

Beskow LM et al. Informed Consent for Population-Based Research Involving Genetics. 2001 JAMA 286(18):2315-2321.

Session 20 - Genetic Testing of Children

  • Ross LF. Should Children and Adolescents Undergo Genetic Testing? 2004 Pediatric Annals 33(11):762-769.
  • Wilfond B & Ross LF. From Genetics to Genomics: Ethics, Policy, and Parental Decision-Making. 2009 Journal of Pediatric Psychology 34(6):639-647.

Session 21 - UC Berkeley & Stanford Students

  • Jabr C. Exposing the Student Body: Stanford Joins U.C. Berkeley in Controversial Genetic Testing of Students. Scientific American July 6, 2010. Available at
  • Ormond KE et al. Medical and Graduate Students’ Attitudes Toward Personal Genomics. 2011 Genet Med 13(5):400-408.
  • Salari K, Pizzo PA, Prober CG. To Genotype or Not to Genotype? Addressing the Debate Through the Development of a Genomics and Personalized Medicine Curriculum. 2011 Academic Medicine 86:925-927.

Session 22 - Race & Genetics

  • Lundy B. Race, Ethnicity, and Health Can Genetics Explain Disparities. 2002 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 45(2):159-174.
  • Ossorio P & Duster T. Controversies in Biomedical, Behavioral, and Forensic Sciences. 2005 American Psychologist 60(1):115-128.
  • Soo-Jin Lee S et al. The Ethics of Characterizing Difference: Guiding Principles on Using Racial Categories in Human Genetics (Open letter). 2008 Genome Biology 9:404.