Personal Genetics Education Project

3rd Congressional briefing

Personal genetics and law enforcement:
Improving public safety, ensuring justice, and balancing civil rights

Organized by the Personal Genetics Education Project, Harvard Medical School
In cooperation with the offices of Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter and Senator Elizabeth Warren
March 19, 2015, Rayburn House Office Building



Claire M. Fraser, PhD, Director, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Duana Fullwiley, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University

Henry T. Greely, JD, Director, Center for Law and the Biosciences; Professor of Law and Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics, Stanford University

David Kaye, JD, Associate Dean for Research, Penn State Law, and Graduate Faculty, Forensic Science Program, College of Science, Pennsylvania State University

This briefing was the third in a series about personal genetics, as the advances in technology and research that inspired President Obama’s announcement of the Precision Medicine Initiative are bringing exciting opportunities and new challenges for health, law, business, and beyond.

The briefing began by highlighting research that illustrates how scientists are utilizing cutting-edge tools that probe the hidden world of microbes to improve health and increase public safety. Then, a panel of experts addressed the uses of DNA in the criminal justice system and emerging policy questions surrounding the acquisition, interpretation, and storage of DNA samples. The panel explored technologies that are creating new possibilities for law enforcement to protect individuals and the implications for privacy and racial justice. These issues are central to an on-going dialogue about a safe and fair integration of genetics into society.

We were very pleased to welcome the Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, House of Representatives to lend her remarks to this discussion.

Click here for a press release on the briefing and here for coverage of the briefing in HMS News.

In the days leading up to and since the briefing, a number of news stories related to DNA, law enforcement, and civil rights have caught our eye (highlighted here and here).

The mission of pgEd is to raise awareness of the benefits and implications of personal genetics and make that awareness equally accessible across all segments of society regardless of socioeconomic, educational, ethnic, religious, or cultural background. Its goal is to instill the confidence in individuals to ask questions, make informed decisions, and respect the opinions of others.

For further information, contact Marnie Gelbart at (617) 432-1797 or