In the April 30 online issue of The Lancet, Ashley Caplan, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and several of his colleagues note that the average person will discover he or she has about 100 genetic risks.
“Even if [counseling on] that information averaged only three minutes per disorder, this process would take more than five hours of direct patient contact, after many hours of background research,” they calculate. And there are only about 2,500 trained genetic counselors and 1,100 clinical geneticists in North America, all now busy with other work.
The Genome 10K project aims to assemble a genomic zoo—a collection of DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species, approximately one for every vertebrate genus. The trajectory of cost reduction in DNA sequencing suggests that this project will be feasible within a few years. Capturing the genetic diversity of vertebrate species would create an unprecedented resource for the life sciences and for worldwide conservation efforts.
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