Tuskegee, Michigan State Collaborate on Human Genome Implications
DETROIT — The University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Tuskegee University are collaborating on a Communities of Color and Genetics Policy project to educate minorities about genetic research and gather opinions on guidelines so that genetic information isn’t used as a basis for discrimination or misused in other ways.
“Guidelines must be followed to protect people from the misuse of genetic information, as well as to establish public trust in genetic medicine,” says Dr. Marian G. Secundy, director of the bioethics center.
Now that a rough draft of DNA code determining humans’ hereditary makeup has been completed, the urgency has been stepped up to create policy recommendations, says Tene Hamilton, a genetic counselor with the Tuskegee University Center for Bioethics and Research Center. “We may even need laws even laws surrounding genetic technologies that would guard against insurance, employee and other forms of discrimination,” Hamilton added.
The collaboration grew out of an earlier project by the University of Michigan where they went to the community to get recommendations for genetic policymaking but most of the participants were White. The new project, which targets 15 Latino and African American organizations for their input on genetic policymaking, was started to get a more representative segment of the population involved.
“With the history of incidents like the syphilis study at Tuskegee, we wanted to be sure that the voices of people of color were heard and their suggestions on recommendations aired,” Hamilton says. “The successful cloning of the sheep, Dolly, raises the issue of what kinds of safeguards are in place for the next logical step, the cloning of humans or of human organs,” Hamilton says.
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