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Berkeley Considers Student Genetic Tests

Publication Date: 
August 12, 2010
The California Report
Sarah Varney

Professor Hank Greely talks to Sarah Varney of the California Report about ethical issues and privacy concerns surrounding a genetic testing program for incoming students at UC Berkeley:

UC Berkeley will decide this week whether to move ahead with genetic testing for incoming students. The program was meant to get students to think about the future of medicine, but instead has raised concerns over privacy.

Hank Greely, director of Stanford University's Center for Law and the Biosciences, says Berkeley's plan to give students individual test results was ill conceived. Greely says, even though the genes being tested aren't related to any serious diseases, like Alzheimer's or breast cancer, students could easily misinterpret the results.

"So I would worry that, for example, one of the students getting the gene test telling him he has the "normal" variation for alcohol would decide that meant he could drink a lot. Or that the student who received information that she had the normal variation for metabolizing folic acid might later think she doesn't need folic acid supplements during pregnancy."