My name is Richard Sharp.
I'm an assistant professor at
the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine.
The title of my talk is ethical issues in
molecular epidemiology and studies of gene-environment interactions.
Today, I'm going to talk about ethical issues in human genetic research.
I'm going to begin by saying a little bit about
developments that have taken place over the last decade.
In particular, I'm going to talk about an experiment in science policy called
the ELSI program that was initiated by
the National Institutes of Health here in the United States.
I'll say a little bit about how ethical issues in genetic research are
transforming with new investigations of the genetics of complex disease as well.
In the second half of my lecture,
I'm going to talk about ethical issues in the study of gene-environment interactions.
In here, I want to raise a number of issues that are
emergent issues and are largely undecided.
I'm going to raise a number of questions about how researchers should present
the promise and limitations of new forms of genetic research.
I'm going to talk about some potential misapplications
of genomic information and genomic technologies.
I'm going to talk about a trend toward
geneticizing environmental hazards or seeing them as,
at bottom, the result of genetic susceptibilities that individuals happen to have.
And finally, I'm going to talk about the scope of
future research that involves the use of human biological materials.
Over the past decade, there's been a tremendous amount
of enthusiasm about genetic research.
Much of this enthusiasm has surrounded the sequencing of the human genome.
This is a project that was initiated in the late 1980s
and was completed or announced as completed in June of 2000.
With this successful completion of the Human Genome Project,
researchers from around the world became increasingly interested in
applying those findings to the study of complex genetic diseases.
An aspect of the human genome project that many people