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Version 2. F1000Res. 2017 Nov 17 [revised 2018 Jan 24];6:2020. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.12850.2. eCollection 2017.

Genetics in the 21st Century: Implications for patients, consumers and citizens.

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Society and Ethics Research Group, Connecting Science, Cambridge, CB10 1SA, UK.


The first human genome project, completed in 2003, uncovered the genetic building blocks of humankind. Painstakingly cataloguing the basic constituents of our DNA ('genome sequencing') took ten years, over three billion dollars and was a multinational collaboration. Since then, our ability to sequence genomes has been finessed so much that by 2018 it is possible to explore the 20,000 or so human genes for under £1000, in a matter of days. Such testing offers clues to our past, present and future health, as well as information about how we respond to medications so that truly 'personalised medicine' is now moving closer to a reality. The impact of such a 'genomic era' is likely to have some level of impact on an increasingly large number of us, even if we are not directly using healthcare services ourselves. We explore how advancements in genetics are likely to be experienced by people, as patients, consumers and citizens; and urge policy makers to take stock of the pervasive nature of the technology as well as the human response to it.


citizen; consumer; genomics; patient

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