Personal Genetics Education Project

Direct-to-consumer genetics, 23andMe and the FDA

Whenever pgEd is out talking with students, we often spend some time talking about how it is becoming increasingly inexpensive to learn about one’s own DNA.  Students are very quick to grasp the implications of easy access to genetic information, and we typically have spirited conversations about ethics, medicine, health, family and always..”hmm, do I want to have that information?”.

23andMe is a company that sells genome analysis kits online for $99 dollars US and has over 100,000 customers. 23andMe and related companies have sparked an extensive amount of conversation about how much information people want and need about their DNA and the role of doctors and genetics counselors to guide people through their genomes.  For years, questions have persisted about what sort of oversight, if any, was needed.  In late November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told 23andMe to stop selling their product.

Many excellent writers, scientists, bioethicists and lawyers have weighed in on this question: Should the FDA regulate direct-to-consumer genetic testing? Where is the line between a recreational product and a medical device?

The piece by Jennifer Wagner and John Conley at Genomics Law Report (GLR), The sky is falling on personal genomics! Oh, nevermind. It’s just a cease and desist letter from the FDA to 23andMe, is a balanced,  comprehensive overview of the issues.  Genomics Law Report is an excellent resource to keep up with the intersection of biology and law, and in addition to the biology classroom, we believe GLR would be a great resource in a history, government, law or civics classroom.

In addition, science writer David Dobbs has collected many articles and commentaries, I got your 23andMe – FDA food fight links right here. It looks like he is regularly updating his list, so it is a good spot to check in on as this story develops.

Upcoming Events

Jan 08

pgEd at Conservatory Lab Charter School

January 8, 2019, 10:15 am - 11:15 am
Dorchester MA
United States

In the News

Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org shared National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Becoming a Scientist with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins.
Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org

An event that our teacher friends may find useful: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Monday, Dec 10th from 3:15-45 pm ET, where he will take questions from middle school students from across the US. You are invited to livestream this event to your classroom and submit your students' questions in the event feed's comments section!

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
How can you start a career in STEM? Join NIH Director & geneticist Dr. Francis Collins on December 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm ET for a conversation featuring Johnson Creek Middle School on becoming a scientist. Dr. Collins will be taking questions from middle school students from across the U.S.!
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