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Account Res. 2004 Jul-Dec;11(3-4):161-82.

Ethics and research assessing the relative roles of genes and the environment.

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Duke University Medical Scientist Training Program, School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA.


Research on the interaction of genes and the environment is revealing that many human diseases have both genetic and environmental components. Even traditional "environmental" diseases, such as infections, appear to interact with genetic components in the human host. Environmental genetics research will inevitably increase understanding of individual susceptibilities to toxic exposures in the environment and harmful side effects of medications; therefore, it has great promise for improving the prevention and treatment of human diseases. However, realizing the benefits of this research requires careful attention to ethical issues that are particularly relevant in this context. This article reviews some of the most pressing issues related to research design and methods, as well as from the application of research results (e.g., workplace genetic screening and legal toxic torts, personal medical responsibility, and the relationship between genetics and public health measures).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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