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Yale J Biol Med. 2012 Mar;85(1):87-92. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Getting a head start: the importance of personal genetics education in high schools.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


With advances in sequencing technology, widespread and affordable genome sequencing will soon be a reality. However, studies suggest that "genetic literacy" of the general public is inadequate to prepare our society for this unprecedented access to our genetic information. As the current generation of high school students will come of age in an era when personal genetic information is increasingly utilized in health care, it is of vital importance to ensure these students understand the genetic concepts necessary to make informed medical decisions. These concepts include not only basic scientific knowledge, but also considerations of the ethical, legal, and social issues that will arise in the age of personal genomics. In this article, we review the current state of genetics education, highlight issues that we believe need to be addressed in a comprehensive genetics education curriculum, and describe our education efforts at the Harvard Medical School-based Personal Genetics Education Project.


ELSI; education; genetic testing; genome sequencing; personal genetics; personalized medicine; policy; science and society; social medicine

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