by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted July 25, 2007 in DNA in General, Personalities with DNA, Polls About DNA
Add Esther Dyson to the list of genome enthusiasts, which includes her father Freeman Dyson, James Watson, Craig Venter, and me! (OK, so I am not of the same league as the others on the list but a girl can dream, can’t she?)
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Ms. Dyson writes about her decision to reveal all–her genome, her health, and her medical records–as part of George Church’s Personal Genome Project (PGP). She gives the following reasons for her “full disclosure”:
- She wants to show that her genome doesn’t hold any special information that others can use to hurt her.
- She doesn’t believe she has any deep secrets to hide or anything that would be detrimental to relatives who share parts of her DNA.
- She doesn’t work for anyone who would fire her for having genetic mutations.
- She has health insurance.
- She wants society to start thinking about what will happen when we know more about our genetic predisposition for certain medical conditions – taxes, subsidies, penalties,….
- She believes that information on our personal DNA will become an inevitable part of our lives. We must begin to address the possibilities now and take responsibility for the consequences.
Esther Dyson’s genome and other personal health info will be released to the public in a couple of months along with nine other people’s (does anyone know who they are?). As Ms. Dyson mentions in her piece, genes are not destiny. Because environment plays a strong, if not stronger, part in who and what we are, how much of that information was collected from the PGP participants? I wonder what factors–genetic or otherwise–might have contributed to the development of someone like Esther Dyson, a successful free-thinking, cutting-edge entrepreneur.
Enrollment in the Personal Genome Project will open again in September. If I had my genome sequenced, I’d like to compare it to Ms. Dyson’s and see what doesn’t match up. Which parts of my DNA kept me from achieving the same heights of success?
Would you apply to have your genome sequenced by the PGP? Take the poll below:
NB: More discussion on the Personal Genome Project at Genome Technology Daily Scan.
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