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April 22, 1992

AAAS Conference Explores Ethical Aspects of Large Pedigree Genetic Research

JAMA. 1992;267(16):2158. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480160016004

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JAMES D. WATSON, PhD, codiscoverer of the DNA double helix and director of the Human Genome Project, has characterized the genome project as "a 'public good' in the best sense" because its principal goal is "to assist biomedical researchers in their assault on disease" (JAMA. 1990;263:3322). However, the plan to map and sequence the human genome has also raised a number of ethical concerns about such issues as the potential for a revival of eugenics (JAMA. 1992;267:1715-1716) and genetic discrimination in employment and insurance (JAMA. 1991;266:1835-1836).

Recognizing the need to address such issues, the National Center for Human Genome Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md, included an Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Program as part of the funding for the project. As one aspect of its activities, the ELSI Program funded a project on the ethical and legal implications of genetic testing, organized by the American Association for