A pair of bioethics experts have added "playwright" to their resumes in an effort to aid the genomics community in grappling with an onslaught of ethical issues as genomic science transitions to bedside healthcare, a decade after the human genome was first sequenced.
Until now the plays of Karen H. Rothenberg and Lynn W. Bush have been performed for, and by, their peers and others in the genomics community at global conferences, meetings and in classrooms. With Oxford University Press' publication of the book The Drama of DNA: Narrative Genomics, excerpts from the plays, along with analysis and discussion of the ethical and cultural issues surrounding genomic science and medicine, are available to a wider audience. A companion website to the book provides links to Bush and Rothenberg's plays in their entirety.
"Drama and the fictionalization of societal issues have always aided us in grappling with the issues of the day, and the discord that can arise where a new technology and culture first meet," says Rothenberg, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Rothenberg also currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Director on Genomics and Society, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health (NHGRI/NIH).
In the first chapter, titled "Why Genomics, Why Narratives, Why Now?" Rothenberg and Bush write, "Many challenges surround the promise of genomic technology and the power of genomic information, as they alter conceptions of identity and dynamics within personal, familial, and professional relationships. Controversial issues aboundsuch as determining whether, what, to whom, when, and how genomic information should be disclosed to individuals and their familiesand whose voices matter in making these determinations."
Eric D. Green, Director of NHGRI and an experien
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Johns Hopkins Medicine