Ethical and Social Challenges of Genomic and Precision Medicine

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Please note: This course was developed in 2014. This course is not actively moderated by course instructors, please use the course forums to collaborate with other learners.

Knowledge linking genomics to health and disease is rapidly expanding. Translation of this knowledge into clinical and public health practice offers promising opportunities but also raises a host of ethical, legal, social, and policy questions. Using case examples, this inter-disciplinary course will explore the challenges of genomic and precision medicine.

This seven week, inter-disciplinary course provides an introduction to ethical, legal, social, and policy issues that arise in the translation of genomic knowledge into medical and public health practice. It considers challenges in health related and reproductive testing/screening focusing on six specific areas:
• Pre‐conception genetic diagnosis, and prenatal testing/screening
• Newborn screening
• Use of genomic sequencing technologies to diagnose and predict disease
• Targeting genomic testing/screening by race/ethnicity
• Direct‐to‐consumer genomic testing/screening
• Use of “big data” for genomic research and genomic translation

Course Objectives

1. Critique the promise of genomics and precision medicine for improving health outcomes for individuals and populations.
2. Through analysis of key cases, demonstrate an understanding of the ethical, legal, social, and policy (ELSI) challenges that accompany the translation of new genomic knowledge into clinical medicine and public health practice.
3. Apply a critical analysis of ELSI concerns to your professional practice (if relevant), your interest as a potential user of genomic knowledge, and as a citizen with a responsibility to shape health policy.


Week 1
Introduction to Genetics in Medicine and Public Health, Genetics as a Tool in Cancer Prevention, and Genetic Screening.

Week 2
Reproductive Genetics

Week 3

Week 4
Genetic Technology in the Prediction and Diagnosis of Disease

Week 5
Race and Genetics

Week 6
Direct to Consumer Testing

Week 7
Where Do We Go From Here?