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The Human Genome Project (HGP) was a project coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health to identify all the genes in human DNA, provide a database of the information discovered through the process, and address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project. Familiarize yourself with this project by completing the following:
Where and how should society respond to and integrate genetic information? Vignettes from The National Human Genome Research Institute provide an opportunity to explore this question in a variety of situations. They are designed to elicit an open-ended discussion. Everyone should be aware that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers.
Keep in mind that genes are not “everything” and that an individual’s health and behaviors are influenced by complex interactions between multiple environmental, social, and genetic factors. There is a tendency for people to lose sight of the complexity of non-genetic influences when discussing these issues.
These vignettes raise some potentially sensitive issues (e.g., loss of a parent, the death penalty, discrimination, diseases such as breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, etc.). Some of you may have had personal experiences that will influence responses to certain vignettes. Each of us will approach the utilization or interpretation of genetic information in different ways and each will bring to the discussion our own knowledge, perceptions, and beliefs. Please remember to remain respectful of everyone’s opinions and perspectives. We all have unique viewpoints and can learn from each other’s experiences.
Select a vignette topic from the list below. Consider the discussion questions regarding the important ethical, legal, or social issue.
Note: All of these vignettes are located on the National Human Genome Research Institute Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Genetic Knowledge (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website.
Reflect (about 300 words) on the ethical implications of one of the specific issues addressed in one of the ELSI vignettes. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Be sure your reflection includes at least two substantiated facts (statistics, events, etc.) and cite the source where you found this information.