Eye on DNA — How will it change your life?

DNA in the Wild – NTUC Income

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 30, 2009 in DNA Fun

NTUC Income, an insurance provider in Singapore, has been running an ad prominently featuring the DNA double helix.


Their Facebook fan page is even running a photo contest asking people to post photos of themselves with one of their DNA ads. Very fun to see DNA in the wild.

Here’s one of my favorites.


(>> Start a discussion!)


Getting a job at the University of Akron could require a DNA sample

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 29, 2009 in DNA and the Law

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Want a Job? Submit your DNA

The University of Akron is requiring that new employees must undergo a criminal background check and possibly a DNA sample.

Applicants will be asked to submit fingerprints and at the discretion of The University of Akron may be asked to submit a DNA sample for the purpose of a federal criminal background check.

~University of Akron Criminal Background Checks for Potential University Employees, effective August 12, 2009

Would you submit your DNA to get a job?

For more, see Inside Higher Ed and Taking Liberties at CBS News



Genomics Law Report Special Series on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 20, 2009 in DNA and the Law, DNA in General, The DNA Network Specials

What ELSI is new (article)DNA Network members who have or are contributing articles to the amazing series on ELSI over at Genomics Law Report:

(>> Start a discussion!)


HUGO Matters

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 13, 2009 in DNA in General

My latest project has launched! HUGO Matters, the official blog of the Human Genome Organisation, is now live. Come check it out:


(>> Start a discussion!)


Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) Symposium on Genomics and Ethics, Law and Society

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted October 5, 2009 in DNA in General

hugo gels

In just a few short weeks, HUGO will be holding a symposium in Geneva, Switzerland on genomics and ethics, law and society (GELS). From 1 to 3 November 2009, experts from around the world will be gathering to discuss the following topics:

  • Science & Its Capabilities
  • Personal Genomics: Redefining Privacy, Choice and the Internet
  • Genetic Determinism, Discrimination, Exceptionalism and Selection
  • Equity and Justice: Access & Participation in the Developing World
  • Open Access, Open Markets: Intellectual Property?

It’s not too late to sign up! Student discounted registration fees, registration waivers for young scholars and young scientists are also available. Please see the GELS registration form.

(>> Start a discussion!)


People Who’ve Had Their Genomes Sequenced

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted September 21, 2009 in DNA in General

Trying to compile a list of people who’ve had their genome sequenced and announced it publicly:

  1. Craig Venter
  2. James Watson
  3. Stephen Quake
  4. George Church
  5. Marjolein Kriek
  6. Hermann Hauser
  7. Han Chinese
  8. Seong-Jin Kim
  9. Korean AK1
  10. Yoruban African NA18507
  11. 14 others sequenced by Complete Genomics
  12. Unknown number sequenced by Knome
  13. 6 genomes sequenced at high depth by the 1000 Genomes Project
  14. 180 genomes sequenced at low coverage by the 1000 Genomes Project
  15. Two acute myeloid leukemia patients

Know any I’ve missed?

Please see the comments for more links.

Sources: Technology Review, Nature 2009 Aug 20; 460(7258):1011-5

Last edited 22 September 2009



Medical Ghostwriting

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted September 11, 2009 in Jobs Involving DNA

Guess I won’t be making this my next career move….ghost

In the scientific literature, ghostwriting usually refers to medical writers, often sponsored by a drug or medical device company, who make major research or writing contributions to articles published under the names of academic authors.

The concern, the researchers said, is that the work of industry-sponsored writers has the potential to introduce bias, affecting treatment decisions by doctors and, ultimately, patient care.

Ghostwriting Widespread in Medical Journals, Study Says – NYTimes.com

In February 2009, PLoS Medicine featured a debate on the same topic:

What should be done to tackle ghostwriting in the medical literature?

Given that I’ve lived in Asia for most of the past 10 years (with the exception of 2+ years in the UK), I know firsthand how important ghostwriters and editors are for researchers whose first language is not English. I don’t think the issue is whether ghostwriters or medical writers should or should not be allowed to help researchers formulate grammatical sentences and put together coherent papers. Ethical issues arise when the ghostwriters are paid for by pharmaceutical companies or others with a vested interest in seeing particular results. Therefore, the requirement that authors declare competing interests should be adequate disclosure that applies to all listed in the paper where case ghost/medical writers could be listed in the acknowledgements.

Maybe I’ll keep my options open after all….

via The Tree of Life



Personal Update – Social Media at Human Genome Organisation

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted September 6, 2009 in Business of DNA, DNA in General

The pace around here at Eye on DNA is still nothing like it was before I went on maternity leave last June. But I have another great reason for continuing to neglect this space.

Current Company LogoSince the start of my first personal blog in 2003, I have been an enthusiastic believer in the power of social media. When I began science blogging in 2005, I truly understood the importance of citizen media for informing, sharing, and inspiring.

This month I made another move into social media and began working at Soho Square as social media editor. At the same time, I became social media consultant to the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) which many of you know as the folks in charge of gene nomenclature.

But HUGO is more than just nomenclature, the Organization’s mission statement:

  • to investigate the nature, structure, function and interaction of the genes, genomic elements and genomes of humans and relevant pathogenic and model organisms;
  • to characterise the nature, distribution and evolution of genetic variation in humans and other relevant organisms;
  • to study the relationship between genetic variation and the environment in the origins and characteristics of human populations and the causes, diagnoses, treatments and prevention of disease;
  • to foster the interaction, coordination, and dissemination of information and technology between investigators and the global society in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, and the clinical sciences by promoting quality education, comprehensive communication, and accurate, comprehensive, and accessible knowledge resources for genes, genomes and disease; and,
  • to sponsor factually-grounded dialogues on the social, legal, and ethical issues related to genetic and genomic information and championing the regionally-appropriate, ethical utilization of this information for the good of the individual and the society.

To help accomplish the above, I will be assisting HUGO in setting up a blog as well as fostering an online (leading to a more active offline) community. I will have more news in the days to come. Meanwhile, please join us at the following:

Thanks for your support!



The DNA Network Reincarnated (Again)

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted August 29, 2009 in The DNA Network Specials

The DNA Network, a not-for-profit consortium of some of the best genetics blogs on the Web, has a new homepage at DNAbloggers.com designed by Ricardo Vidal. The Network is now over two years old and boasts over 50 active blogs. If you’d like to join, please email me at hsien AT eyeondna DOT com.

The Network is now available via Google Reader as a “bundle” where you can also access the aggregated RSS feed.

(>> Start a discussion!)


Dr. Robert Marion on Physician Knowledge of Genetics

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted August 27, 2009 in Books About DNA, Personalities with DNA

genetic rounds robert marion

In the last part of my interview with clinical geneticist and author Dr. Robert Marion, he touches on the inadequate way in which medical schools teach genetics (a topic near and dear to Dr. Steve Murphy’s heart).

How do you expect the genome revolution to change the way you practice medicine?

The genome revolution will lead to a second revolution, this one in medicine.  Rather than being a field in which physicians wait for symptoms and signs to develop, allowing us to react and treat them, we will know, through newborn or prenatal screening, which mutations and polymorphisms are present, giving us information about the likelihood of the development of disease later in life.  And rather than being reactive, medicine will become predictive, with physicians focusing on ways of manipulating the environment in order to prevent those alterations in the genes from manifesting diseases. 

Unfortunately, the lesson of the genome revolution has not yet broken through to medical school education committees.  The traditional way in which physicians are trained will soon become outmoded; we geneticists need to begin to lobby to change the curricula of medical schools now, so that the physicians who care for us tomorrow will have the necessary knowledge to be able to approach this brave new world of medicine.


For more about genetics in medical education, see:

The dawning era of personalized medicine exposes a gap in medical education by Keyan Salari at Speaking of Medicine, a PLoS Medicine Community Blog


The full round-up of posts on Dr. Robert Marion and his new book, Genetic Rounds:

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