The research world of genetics is moving very rapidly in the context of the sequencing of the human genome, and learning more about the genetic factors influencing the development and severity of many common diseases. Genetic testing, and specifically predictive testing, will alter the way medicine is practiced by moving to a more preventive approach. In addition, pharmacogenetic testing for drug responsiveness will help personalize medicine as well. There is some urgency to stimulate education and action by physicians, policy makers, and the public as science will continue its rapid advance. The take home messages will include: collect your family history; engage policy makers in issues around genetic discrimination; and, continue to broaden your understanding of genetics and its impact on your medical care.
Joann A. Boughman is the Executive Vice President of the American Society of Human Genetics. She received her Ph.D. in medical genetics from Indiana University and has served on the faculty in the Department of Human Genetics at the Medical College of Virginia and in the Division of Human Genetics at the University of Maryland. Her research focused on the genetic epidemiology of a number of disorders. She served on the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing (of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), engaged in critical public-policy questions concerning the need for government oversight of genetic testing. She has served as the Associate Vice President for Research, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Maryland.
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