Hospital, Drugmaker Developing Vast DNA Database

    Photo: Getty Images [via The New York Times]

    The Facts

    • The Mount Sinai Health System in NYC, partnering with pharmaceutical company Regeneron, began an effort this week to create a vast database of patient DNA to be studied by both researchers and the pharma company.

    • The database will be used to research illnesses such as schizophrenia and kidney disease, with Mount Sinai aiming to include one million patients' DNA for genetic sequencing.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    The potential of a massive medical and pharmaceutical DNA database raises serious ethical concerns. Not only have the police been known to have obtained people's genetic information from genealogical websites, but collecting someone's DNA today means they'd be collecting the DNA of their children and grandchildren, too, without consent. This is a serious privacy and surveillance issue.

    Narrative B

    Databases like these aren't just necessary for the healthcare of individuals who give their one-time consent, but for the future of large studies that will very likely revolutionize the healthcare industry and save lives. Medical research institutions have proven over many years that patients can trust them on privacy issues, so Mount Sinai and Regeneron are solid partners for this endeavor.

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