Wednesday, December 26, 2007
By the way, if any of PredictER Blog's readers would like to know more about the history of eugenics in Indiana, be sure to investigate the holdings of the Bioethics Digital Library at the Indiana University Center for Bioethics (the home of PredictER). Also see the Indiana Eugenics History & Legacy 1907-2007 Web site (Project Director: William Schneider, Ph.D. Department of History, Medical Humanities-Health Studies Program, Center for Bioethics, IUPUI).
[Photo: "The greatest blessing for a child is to be born of healthy parents"; The Indiana mothers' baby book: a brief treatise for mothers upon pregnancy, preparation for and management of labor, the care of mother and child, and breast and bottle feeding / Indiana State Board of Health. BEDL.]
Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
In a recent email to the Genetic Alliance listserv, Sharon F. Terry (President and CEO, Genetic Alliance) announced that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (S.358) "is not included in the omnibus bill that will come out of the rules committee tonight [Dec. 16] in the House". Terry adds that the House "is worried about a veto from the President, and wants the omnibus to be as noncontroversial as possible".
Two versions of the omnibus, H.R. 2764: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008, have now passed in both the House and the Senate. Before sending the bill to the President, a conference committee of senators and representatives will work to justify differences in the versions. - J.O.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Although GINA has received the most attention from the press and legislators (and rightly so, as it is only one roadblock away from a vote) other bills relevant to predictive health research have also been introduced. Like GINA, two of these were written with the intent to enhance the privacy of medical records. Both of these are currently waiting for review in the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:
S.1455 National Health Information Technology and Privacy Advancement Act of 2007
Introduced May 23, 2007, this bill aims "to provide for the establishment of a health information technology and privacy system". The bill's sponsor, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [RI], and four cosponsors ask for creation of the "Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology". Among other things, this new "nonprofit national health information technology and privacy corporation" would identify rules for the research use of non-identifiable health care data.
S.1814 Health Information Privacy and Security Act (HIPSA)
HIPSA, reviewed here at PredictER Blog, was introduced by Sen. Leahy [VT] on July 18, 2007. While intending, in part, to "promote the use of non-identifiable information for health research", the bill strengthens personal privacy protections. If passed, individuals would be permitted to inspect a copy of this information and would be notified of security breaches. HIPSA also requires the Health and Human Services Secretary to provide "model written authorization for the disclosure" of health information and establishes criminal and civil penalties for intentional violations.
Readers interested in the development of biobanks and genetic databases for pediatric research, will want to follow the progress of a third bill: S.911 Conquer Childhood Cancer Act of 2007. This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to establish a grant mechanism to sponsor the creation of a national, population-based database for pediatric cancer research—the Childhood Cancer Research Network. The Act, introduced by Sen. Reed [RI], would also provide grants for Research Fellowships and for the public awareness and communication efforts of relevant advocacy organizations. This bill was recently reviewed by the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar (see General Orders, No. 535). A version of the bill is also making its way through the House of Representatives; H.R.1553 is sponsored by Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio and was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health on March 16, 2007. - J.O.
Subscribe to PredictER Blog for updates on these and other legislative developments.
Friday, December 7, 2007
If the practice of genetic genealogy is any indication, the future of medicine in the genomic era will be suffused with complications. Nancy Berlinger, of Bioethics Forum, provides an engaging and insightful account of a few of these in "And I am Marie of Romania: Genetics, Genealogy, and the Ethics of Storytelling". Berlinger adds to the ongoing commentary on the new Henry Louis Gates, Jr. venture, AfricanDNA. Gates started this venture, in part, because of frustrations with inaccurate and misleading genetic genealogy results. As Berlinger writes, the misinterpretation (that Gates possesses a genetic link to those once living in the ancient North African kingdom of Nubia, and not, as it turns out, to a less impressive European "servant" in the American colonies) might have been the result of poor science, but also, might be attributed to "wish fulfillment on the part of geneticists and their clients".
To the Gates story, Berlinger contributes related accounts of individuals receiving, accurate, but potentially unwelcome, genealogical information. While America still struggles with its racist inheritance, individuals like Bliss Broyard struggle with new found genealogical information (see her new memoir, One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets). Every one has family secrets--information we are not privy to at the moment--and (as Matt Mealiffe reminds us in Who's Your Daddy?) there's no reason to believe that all or even most of these secrets are about race. Clearly, genetic genealogy (as Blaine Bettinger often notes) is no simple task--will personalized, genetic medicine be any easier? Who will hold and who will expose the secrets in your genome? Is it possible, just maybe, that a one or two of the most enthusiastic, early adopters of personalized medicine will discover a few things they'll wish they'd never known? - J.O.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Citation: Nature 450, 762 (6 December 2007) | doi:10.1038/450762b; Published online 5 December 2007.
Related: NPG author licence policy.