Ongoing debate on college DNA 'test'
Saturday, August 28, 2021 4:12 PM

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More than 5,000 transfer and freshmen students at the University of California, Berkeley, received DNA cheek swab kits from the university to test three common genetic variants as part of the College of Letters and Sciences' fall orientation program on personalized medicine, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

More than 700 students sent samples, the newspaper said.

But after a ruling by the California Department of Public Health this month, Berkeley scientists abandoned plans to provide individual student results. Instead, they will release the information as composite group results.

Now some students are questioning whether they want to be involved at all.

"Everyone should be given the opportunity to opt out because I think the game has changed," Elizabeth Noah, a 32-year-old legal studies transfer student, said.

Noah said state regulators overreacted, and she ultimately decided to remain a participant in the program.

In its decision, the Public Health Department said the project amounted to medical research and therefore required the use of specially licensed clinical laboratories rather than those available on campus.

UC officials said those labs would be too expensive and impractical.

Charis Thompson, professor and chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies, said students should have had the option of testing their genes only after completing the educational program.

"I don't think coming to university should involve being a research test subject," she said, adding that the planning should have involved more faculty input.

(Source: UPI )


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