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Human Genome News, Jan.-Feb. 1995; 6(5): 6
Genetic advances pose enormous challenges to state and federal courts, where judges are struggling to understand and assess new information. Franklin Zweig (Einstein Institute for Science, Health, and the Courts) discussed some of these issues, noting that while the impact on the judicial process has been dramatized recently by DNA evidence in the O.J. Simpson case, future impact will be far more dramatic as courts confront noncriminal topics. These issues may be as large as proposals to enact eugenic statutes and as small as a laboratory's failure to diagnose a catastrophic disease in a prenatal test. Zweig's group is developing a reference text with companion videotape and CD ROM to help judges understand genetic evidence [see HGN 5(6), 1-3 (March 1994)]. He observed, however, that more-complex cases will require the help of neutral, court-appointed expert witnesses. Zweig is compiling a roster of scientists to serve as expert witnesses and encouraged workshop attendees to add their names.
Margaret Jefferson (California State University, Los Angeles) and Mary Ann Sesma (Los Angeles Unified School District) are developing a culturally and linguistically appropriate curriculum on genetics for Hispanic students and their families. Materials include a Spanish translation of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study module and supplemental references on ELSI and the genetics of New World Hispanics.
Alan Westin (Center for Social and Legal Research) is analyzing the effects of new genetic technologies on individuals and institutions. He observed that society is now past the issue-identification stage and noted that ELSI studies give issues a high visibility that has helped stave off for the past 3 to 4 years the tendency to pass laws before issues are understood. Westin suggested empirical studies to analyze early uses of genetic discoveries in sectors where social issues are sharply defined. Other study topics include institutional policies and standards, duties and responsibilities of professionals regarding confidentiality and disclosure, and value questions involving privacy.
Denise Casey, HGMIS
The electronic form of the newsletter may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v6n5).
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.