a his & hers weblog of worlds apart

Genomics and America: Election 2008

With the upcoming US election, I can’t help but watch and think about how the outcome might affect genetic policy.

I first heard of Barack Obama in the fall of 2006, when his proposed “Personalized Medicine Act” came up in a class discussion. Among other things, this bill (which has been revised and is now called the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act of 2007) states that realizing the promise of personalized medicine requires:

  • the expansion and acceleration of genomics research
  • a capable genomics workforce
  • improved regulation over the quality of genetic tests, direct-to-consumer advertising of genetic tests, and use of personal genomic information

Needless to say, this bill (and the man behind it) easily appeals to the scientific community, and specifically the genetics community. A couple of weeks ago, Obama revealed an impressive list of scientific advisers which has only served to increase the scientific community’s support for the presidential candidate.

The addition of Sarah Palin to the republican bill provides a very different, and troubling layer to their scientific platform- namely her support for the inclusion of creationism in science classes. With genetics being the cornerstone of evolutionary theory, what would a republican win mean for genomics research funding and the “genomics workforce”?

This question is made more interesting when you consider her youngest son’s Down Syndrome diagnosis. If it is true that the diagnosis was made prenatally, then it is conceivable that Palin would have interacted with genetics during her pregnancy, and possibly even met with a genetic counselor. [Out of curiosity I searched the National Society of Genetic Counselor’s website to find a prenatal genetic counselor in or around Anchorage, Alaska; there are none listed.] If not prenatally, it is likely that her son would have been evaluated by a geneticist within the first few months of life.

Palin has committed to advocating on behalf of children with special needs, an important and honorable task. However, the special needs community is intimitely tied to the genetics community through clinical care, research and even advocacy work. I can’t help but imagine that policy decisions made within the context of a creationist ideology would only serve to undermine the genetics/genomics community and in turn, do a great disservice to the people Palin so fervently promises to help.

One comment on “Genomics and America: Election 2008

  1. alliejanson
    October 17, 2008

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