Focus: Translational Medicine: Getting a Head Start: The Importance of Personal Genetics Education in High Schools
With advances in sequencing technology, widespread and affordable genome sequencing will soon be a reality. However, studies suggest that “genetic literacy” of the general public is inadequate to prepare our society for this unprecedented access to our genetic information. As the current generation of high school students will come of age in an era when personal genetic information is increasingly utilized in health care, it is of vital importance to ensure these students understand the genetic concepts necessary to make informed medical decisions. These concepts include not only basic scientific knowledge, but also considerations of the ethical, legal, and social issues that will arise in the age of personal genomics. In this article, we review the current state of genetics education, highlight issues that we believe need to be addressed in a comprehensive genetics education curriculum, and describe our education efforts at the Harvard Medical School-based Personal Genetics Education Project.
Keywords: personal genetics, genetic testing, genome sequencing, ELSI, education, policy, science and society, personalized medicine, social medicine
Within a few years, sequencing a human genome is expected to cost less than $1,000, a benchmark for “personal genome” sequencing to approach widespread clinical feasibility . Since the release of the first draft of the human genome sequence just one decade ago, the post-genomic era has ushered in improvements to sequencing technologies that have dramatically reduced sequencing costs. The cost of sequencing a single human genome has dropped 10,000-fold over the last decade, from $100