The Ethical Introduction of Genome-Based Information and Technologies into Public Health

H.C. Howard, E. Swinnen, K. Douw, Hindrik Vondeling, J.J. Cassiman, A. Cambon-Thomsen, P. Borry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


With the human genome project running from 1989 until its completion in 2003, and the incredible advances in sequencing technology and in bioinformatics during the last decade, there has been a shift towards an increase focus on studying common complex disorders which develop due to the interplay of many different genes as well as environmental factors. Although some susceptibility genes have been identified in some populations for disorders such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, the integration of this information into the health care system has proven to be much more problematic than for single gene disorders. Furthermore, with the 1000$ genome supposedly just around the corner, and whole genome sequencing gradually being integrated into research protocols as well as in the clinical context, there is a strong push for the uptake of additional genomic testing. Indeed, the advent of public health genomics, wherein genomics would be integrated in all aspects of health care and public health, should be taken seriously. Although laudable, these advances also bring with them a slew of ethical and social issues that challenge the normative frameworks used in clinical genetics until now. With this in mind, we highlight herein 5 principles that are used as a primer to discuss the ethical introduction of genome-based information and genome-based technologies into public health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-109
JournalPublic health genomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-296757
  • IR-86360


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