The Decision

Stanford University's Atul Butte and Robert Green from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School discuss whether healthy people should have their genomes sequenced.

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what is a healthy person? I

what is a healthy person? I would narrow the healthy population to those that age well. Those over 55 that have a family history of long lifers, and who themselves are free of disease, rarely get colds or flu, etc. That smaller population might tell us something about the mechanisms required for superior immune defense and superior body repair. It stands to reason that those older individuals free of dementia, RA, who live active lives must have more going than diet and exercise.



I have two well developed

I have two well developed family trees. One worked on for 20yrs going forward 7 generations back to Poland on my mothers side being updated presently by a New zealander family and the other I put together going back 7 generations and connecting to my namesake in Essex UK which is another 6 generations. I was given this family tree before I left Australia in 1988 to work with Prof Stephen Humphries group, London on the genetics of Atherosclerosis. At the time, the deaths of many of my ancestors at 90 yrs intrigued me. I am healthy and fit at the age of 60 and now cant wait until I can get my families genomes done when the price falls to around $1000 to mitigate risks. There will be at least several family members ( siblings) who wont want to know. I have a next gen sequencer for bacterial and seeking to get one of the babys for human genetics soon for my work.

I am surprised by Robert

I am surprised by Robert Green's reticence. How will we learn which variants in "healthy" people are cause for immediate intervention unless we sequence lots of "healthy" people, compare them to "sick" people and follow them forward?

Sequencing many healthy (and sick) individuals, from many different populations, while monitoring their phenotypic spectrum, (including subsequent age of onset and symptomatic severity) will provide the information to begin to disentangle the disparate effects of variants in widely different backgrounds of genotypic diversity and environmental variables.

If you believe in genetics, isn't family history merely the distillation of genomic causation and overlapping environmental influence?

Thanks for your comment. I

Thanks for your comment. I don't think we disagree. Sequencing healthy people and following them forward is a massive research undertaking that I fully support. The subjects of this commentary was whether it is appropriate to be sequencing healthy individuals right now for clinical (not research) purposes. Robert Green @genomes2people