Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is federal legislation that makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their genetic profiles in regard to health insurance and employment. These protections are intended to encourage Americans to take advantage of genetic testing as part of their medical care. President George W. Bush signed GINA into law on May 22, 2008.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, to be specific, of 2008, or GINA, as it's called, took some 13 years from the first discussion in the U.S. Congress until it was finally passed and signed into law by the President. This act basically says your predictive genetic information may not be used in health insurance or in the workplace, at least not in the United States, because this law prohibits that. And it was a big step forward in making people feel comfortable that it's safe to find out about your own DNA without the risk that it's going to be used against you.
Name: Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Occupation: Director, National Institutes of Health; Former Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
Biography: Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, is noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his visionary leadership of the Human Genome Project, a complex multidisciplinary scientific enterprise directed at mapping and sequencing human DNA. Dr. Collins was the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 to 2008. His research has led to the identification of genetic variants associated with type 2 diabetes and the genes responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. In 2007, Dr. Collins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award, for his revolutionary contributions to genetic research.