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A Four-Part Series About Personal Genomics at Condé Nast Portfolio – Are Genetic Tests Really Useful?

iStock_000004876214XSmall Portfolio presents an interesting four-part series by David Ewing Duncan about personal genomics. But before I go on, it is important to realize that this series focuses on personal genomics – analysis of SNPs or sequencing throughout the genome – rather than the much narrower field of genetic genealogy. Although there are some ethical concerns surrounding genetic genealogy, they are not specifically addressed in the series.

Portfolio’s public relations coordinator circulated a summary of the series (I wish I had a PR coordinator!):

In Portfolio.com columnist David Ewing Duncan’s four-part series, “You 2.0,” he assess and compares three major websites recently launched that test a person’s DNA for risk-factors for everything from Alzheimer’s Disease and heart attack to drug addiction, an ability to taste bitterness, and ancestry. Is this information ready for prime time? Can it really predict a healthy person’s medical future? Duncan has been tested by 23andme, deCodeme, and Navigenics, and reports on his sometime contradictory and confusing, sometimes funny, and occasionally enlightening results gleaned from these controversial sites that are attempting to bring genetics directly to the people.

Here are the four parts:

  1. You 2.0: Comparison Shopping For Your Future
  2. You 2.0: I’m Doomed. Or Not.
  3. You 2.0: Recreational DNA and Genetic Voyeurism
  4. You 2.0: Closing the Genetic Gap

Look for David’s Book Later This Summer

According to his website, Duncan is writing a book entitled Experimental Man: One Man’s Intimate Journey Into Himself, Cell by Cell (although I’ve also seen it written as Experimental Man: A Molecular Autobiography) which is due to be available in late summer 2008. The book “describes and assesses a wide-range of leading-edge diagnostic tests that David has taken, from genes and environmental toxins inside him to brain scans assessing everything from his propensity to suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease to the politics of his brain. He is running these tests as an Everyman in an attempt to understand and humanize the often eye-glazing science that is about to change our world.” The Experimental Man Power Point Presentation is already available.

Sounds very interesting!

HT: The Gene Sherpa

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007