Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment for genomics

Nicholas Wade, science writer for New York Times describes his disappointment in genomics for personalized medicine but this misses the point in my opinion. Genomic discoveries like any diagnostic tool are part of a larger picture of health. It is in integrating this knowledge along with family medical history and personal life experience that true medical advances will be realized. Over reliance on any screening tool is bound to lead to disappointment especially when people come at the field with such high expectations. Identifying individuals using DNA is a very different project than identifying their risk factors for chronic disease beyond what we already know to be true – smoking, being overweight and sedentary, etc. Mitochondrial DNA and how it influences gene expression is another dimension of genomics yet to be understood or integrated into nuclear DNA genomic discovery. If mitochondria are relics of symbiotic bacteria then this would probably be highly relevant to our current health status. I think we have to be patient and continue to use sensible public health applications while slowly integrating what is valuable from genomic scientific discoveries. Just my personal view – I’d be interested in what others think.


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