Genomics

Genomics is a branch of biology focused on the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes, the complete set of DNA in the single cell of an organism. Sequencing a genome means determining the order of its chemical sub-units. Scientists use these sequences to map and catalog human genetic variation to improve our understanding of human biology, disease susceptibility, and drug response. 

As the cost of genetic sequencing has fallen rapidly in recent years, concerns have increased about inaccurate or misunderstood results, violations of genetic privacy, and misuse of genetic databases. Though direct-to-consumer genetic testing has become a highly publicized industry, many experts express considerable skepticism about its usefulness, either for health conditions or ancestry information. Genetic sequencing is also increasingly used in police work, since DNA in even small amounts of blood, saliva, or other biological materials left at a crime scene can identify or exonerate a suspect. However, police DNA databases, which in many jurisdictions include people who have been arrested for but never convicted of a crime, raise concerns about privacy, potential civil liberties violations, and racial discrimination.


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Twenty years ago, Dr. Francis Collins, who was then director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, made rosy predictions in his Shattuck Lecture about the health benefits sure to flow from the Human Genome Project. His paper on...

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Police departments around the country are getting increasingly comfortable using DNA from non-criminal databases in the pursuit of criminal cases. On Tuesday, investigators in North and South Carolina announced that a public genealogy website had helped them identify two bodies found decades...

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Over the past 25 years, we’ve become surprisingly comfortable with the idea that genes play a large role in our...

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People from minority ethnic backgrounds are set to lose out on medical benefits of genetics research due to an overwhelming...

Man holding up clear plate with DNA

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Bensalem police car parked in front of fence

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Two twin girls with brown hair standing next to each other

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Blue double helix DNA strand on dark blue background

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Two feet standing on a scale

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A macro photo of human cells.

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Person coming out of double helix DNA strand

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