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2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

This is just one question from an archive of the National DNA Day Moderated Chat held in April 2008. The NHGRI Director and many genomics experts from across NHGRI took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.

How does the new DNA nondiscrimination act assist my future?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Great question. I was lucky enough yesterday to be in the Senate gallery to watch the debate and witness the historic 95-0 vote by which the Senate passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). We expect the House, which passed a similar bill earlier this year by a vote of 420-3, to concur with the Senate bill next week and the President to sign it soon afterwards. GINA essentially prevents health insurers and employers from forcing anyone to have a genetic test or to use information about an individual's genetic makeup to set rates, decide who to hire or fire, etc. Perhaps most importantly, GINA will allow people in the future to use information about their individual genetic makeup to improve their health, without fear that this knowledge will backfire by being used against them in health insurance and employment. This is particularly important for people in your generation, since by the time you are old enough to be developing the serious conditions that become common in middle age, we should know a lot about how specific variations in genetic makeup affect health. It is reassuring to know that, after over a dozen years of waiting to see GINA pass, we appear now to be only one week or so away from having it protect us all.
East Hickman County High School in TN (10th grade student)

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