Snyder directs the new Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford, which aims to integrate genomic information with medicine. Large-scale genome sequencing will play an important role in the effort.
The new center will combine biological and computational research to reconstruct molecular networks in the study of non-solid tumors, as well as establish resources for complex data analysis, and for education and outreach to Stanford's cancer research community.
The university will pilot a summer elective course on genetics that includes several precautionary measures to ensure that students don't feel coerced to participate. The incorporation of this course as a permanent program will depend on the success of this pilot, the university said.
The university said students will learn how to analyze, evaluate, and interpret the genetic data, the limitations of existing technologies, and the legal and ethical issues surrounding personal genotyping.
Stanford says the center will build on research from the sequencing of the genome of bioengineering professor Stephen Quake, as well as draw on collaborations between Stanford's basic scientists and clinical researchers, and on technologies developed in Silicon Valley.
Despite criticism, UC Berkeley shows no signs of halting its proposed plans to genetically test incoming freshman this fall. Although UC Berkeley is the first to attempt to roll out genetic testing within its student body, other campuses around the country are planning similar projects.
For early adopters, there are many reasons to be excited about the potential of whole-genome sequencing to broadly personalize healthcare. But for some public health observers, the analytical and educational challenges present an overwhelming hurdle.