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Lyon: Put the 'Human' Back in the Genome

Whole human genome sequences could soon cost as little as $1,000, but Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Gholson Lyon says that "the current biomedical research establishment is entirely unprepared for such a scenario." Here's why: "Researchers often believe that their mission is to uncover new biology and genetics, and that someone else will translate them to the clinical arena," he writes in a post at Project Syndicate. Lyon calls for a 'humanization' of genomics research.

"Today, scientists are rewarded for how many papers they publish, and in which journals. In the United States, several major genome-sequencing centers exist primarily to conduct research," he says. "But the discoveries and published papers rarely benefit the people who enable this research by donating their blood and other tissue samples."

He adds that because the incentives for making progress in genomics research are backwards, scientists are failing "to translate findings into meaningful action for research participants." Says Lion: "Only by improving clinical standards and returning results to participants can human genome sequencing truly serve its purpose — to help humanity."

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