Updated on 10 March 2014
We are learning so much from our genes, and increasingly, that knowledge is empowering us to make the kinds of choices that can keep us from getting sick in the first place.
It would be disingenuous to ignore the complexities and even some of the risks associated with vast, new sources of knowledge in genetics and personalized medicine. I often refer to a prediction made by Lee Hood, a pioneer in the field of personalized medicine who said upon receiving an award from the Personalized Medicine Coalition in 2011:
"In the next decade, billions of data points will surround each individual - this will allow straightforward predictions about health and disease in each person," he seed in 2011. "We need to build systems capable of resolving this complexity into simple hypotheses about health and wellness."
Those billions of data points will ultimately provide tremendous insight and some exciting solutions in personalized medicine. They will also raise some important questions.
There are issues of privacy: would you want your insurance company or your employer to know what your genes foretell about your health and wellbeing? What about your spouse? How do you deal with the fact that your genetics also potentially reveal information about your close relatives?