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March 7, 2009

Genetic Datasets to Stay Closed

"The National Human Genome Research Institute is sticking with a decision, made last summer, to remove free-access, pooled genomics data [from] the Internet." An article in the American Scientist implies that one reason for the decision is that "law enforcement is expanding the way it uses DNA to track suspects, even innocent relatives of suspects in crime cases." The worry seems to be that the police will take a DNA sample from a crime scene, perform a genome-wide scan of SNPs, use a statistical procedure described in a research paper published last year to determine whether the sample could have come from someone who contributed DNA to the research database, then subpoena the research institution for the name of the donor. For references to the report that triggered the worries at NHGRI and private genetics research centers that have adopted the same restrictive polocy, see the report from September 5, 2008, posted on this blog.

--DHK

Reference: Catherine Class 2009. "DNA Research Commons Scaled Back." American Scientist 97(2): 113. March-April.

March 7, 2009 | Permalink

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