Search Network:

« On Privacy, Facebook & Healthcare | Main | Amazing Invention Turns Salt Water Into Fuel & Teaches Me A Lesson About Creativity »

As The Genetic Pandora’s Box Opens Wider, Wither Are The Communicators?

Earlier this week while conducting Sunday morning errands, I turned on my localDNA.jpeg NPR station and listened to an interview with the founders of 23andMe, a new “web-based service that helps you read and understand your DNA.”  In addition to the NPR feature, the company, co-founded by Linda Avery and Anne Wojcicki, has enjoyed a burst of positive media coverage, including a feature article in The New York Times.  I first learned about 23andMe while attending the Health 2.0 conference earlier this year, as Esther Dyson is a board member.  

After reading a lengthy Wired Magazine article about the company, I was struck by the fact that while there is great excitement about new genetic technologies, there is also a lot of uncertainty.  For example, according to Wired:

“Starting a personal genomics company isn't like starting a Flickr or a Facebook. There's nothing intuitive about navigating your genome; it requires not just a new vocabulary but also a new conception of personhood. Scrape below the skin and we're flesh and bone; scrape below that and we're code. There's a massive amount of information to comprehend and fears to allay before customers will feel comfortable with the day-to-day utility of the site. 23andMe's solution is to offer a deep menu of FAQs, along with some nifty animation that explains the basic principles of genetics.”


So, as it so often does, things boil down to communications – or the ability to tell a coherent story about a new medical technology’s potential social and economic impact. Overall, the field of genetics is in sore need of a few folks who can cogently and concisely talk about its implications.  After all, just a few weeks ago DNA co-discoverer James Watson ignited a firestorm when he said that Africans are less intelligent than other groups.  

I believe that scientists, entrepreneurs and others engaged in moving the genomics revolution forward have a great deal of responsibility to society. They must:

-Actively combat those who would interpret genetic tests and scientific studies inappropriately or to achieve nefarious goals

-Help the general public understand the social, economic and medical implications of the genetic revolution

-Work with the appropriate stakeholders in business and government to ensure that people are protected from abuse

-Help people use the information they gather from companies like 23andMe wisely.  

Although I have an obvious bias, I really feel that communicators could help in this regard.  Whither are the communicators?  They are quite ready to serve.  

2 Comments/Trackbacks

» Esther Dyson To Appear On The Digital Health Revolution; Your Questions Please from HealthCareVox
As many of you know, I am the host of The Digital Health Revolution, a WebTV show produced by Scribe Media.  The program features in-depth interviews with the people who are using and developing the technologies that are shaping global... [Read More]

» Spend $300 & Find Out Your Prostate Cancer Risk; Great News, But Something Is Missing from HealthCareVox
Today, the New York Times reports that a company formed by Wake Forest Researchers, ProActive Genetics, has developed a test that will enable men to find out whether they are at an increased risk of prostate cancer.  According to the... [Read More]

submit a trackback

TrackBack URL for this entry:

post a comment

Name, Email Address, and URL are not required fields.

Comment Preview

« On Privacy, Facebook & Healthcare | Main | Amazing Invention Turns Salt Water Into Fuel & Teaches Me A Lesson About Creativity »


Watch Dr. Lamm VigRX Plus Review

Related Resources

recent comments

sponsored ads


Current News



Know More Media - Health Care / Pharmaceutical / Fitness

we support unitus