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April 10, 1996

Informed Consent for Genetic Research

JAMA. 1996;275(14):1085. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530380027019

To the Editor.  —While I salute the fine intentions of Dr Clayton et al and the consensus panel1 in their suggestion that specific informed consent be required for all genetic research, in their zeal to protect the individual they could greatly hamper epidemiologic study of gene-environment interaction. This type of research has as its goal the investigation of the genetic modification of diseases induced by exposure to environmental or occupational toxins.This field follows the tradition of other epidemiologic inquiry. For example, the use of banked serum samples in the study of cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, and nutritional disease has a long and distinguished history in public health and medicine. Biological markers have been used from these sources for decades. Many of the most influential studies in these areas came about only after stored samples provided the material to test hypotheses that could not have been thought of at