On November 24, 2009, President Obama established the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Commission) to advise him on bioethical issues generated by novel and emerging research in biomedical and related areas of science and technology. As part of this initiative, the Commission issued a Notice on March 27, 2012 (Federal Register) seeking comments on the ethical issues raised by the ready availability of large-scale human genome sequencing data.

Privacy And Access

Tremendous technological advances have reduced the cost of sequencing to the point where relatively inexpensive, rapid sequencing of whole genomes is not only likely but imminent. The emergence of this new technology raises, for the Commission, issues how this information can and ought to be collected, used, and governed. Of particular initial interest are issues relating to the privacy of and access to this information by patients, researchers, and medical professionals.

The Commission is particularly interested in comments informing policies, practices, research, and perspective on issues of privacy and data access as they relate to the integration of large scale human genome sequencing into research and clinical care. Of additional interest are models and mechanisms for protecting privacy in both genetic/genomic databases of sensitive information and the sharing and management of information and access to large-scale human genomic data. 

To Submit Comments

Individuals, groups, and organizations interested in commenting may submit comments by email to info@bioethics.gov or by mail to the following address:

Public Commentary, The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, 1425 New York Ave. NW., Suite C-100, Washington, DC 20005.

To assure consideration, comments must be received by May 25, 2012.

For additional insight into the Commission’s thinking on the issues concerning genetic testing, see the Commission’s blog