In a recent CBS News video segment, Eric E. Schadt, chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, enthusiastically discussed the benefits of whole-genome sequencing. When asked about the technology’s potential down sides, he answered:
Given this view, one would imagine that Schadt’s department is deeply engaged with these discussions. In at least one way, it is. He explained that the school is addressing the social and ethical complexities of whole-genome sequencing by offering a first-of-its-kind course in which students analyze entire genomes (either their own or an anonymous sample) and then take part in a research study on the effects of getting this information.
The social implications, what sorts of policy we should be thinking about, those are the discussions we should be having right now, about how to leverage this information in ways that are benefitting humankind, not biasing the type of population through unnatural selection of traits.
Put another way, the school is hoping to determine the ethics of a new technology they’ve adopted by performing it on their...