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In an opinion piece appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle, the University of California, Santa Cruz's David Haussler implores patients to share their genetic data to bolster personalized medicine.

He recounts that, when the human genome was first sequenced and released 15 years ago, it was made public and freely accessible to anyone. This sharing, Haussler says, made a number of advances possible, adding that someone's genome can be sequenced for about $1,000. That, he notes, is enabling clinicians to match patients' tumor sequences to others to determine the best course of treatment.

"The power of this data network will be only as strong as it is vast," Haussler writes. "The bigger the pool of samples, the greater the likelihood of finding molecular matches that benefit patients, as well as patterns that shed new light on how normal cells become malignant."

Patients, he adds, can ask their physicians to securely share their genetic information with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, which seeks to enable better sharing of genomic data and establish technical standards for such sharing.