Ireland should take part in a European genome project, argues Pat Harrold, a medical doctor, in an opinion piece appearing in the Irish Times. He notes that 16 other European Union countries have signed on to collaborate on genetic research.
Previous genetic studies of Ireland have found the population to be relatively homogenous, which Harrold says would make teasing out various susceptibilities to disease or drug reactions easier. He notes that, in New York, a genetic study of people of Puerto Rican and Dominican ancestry has helped uncover differences that can help guide diagnosis and treatments. Further, he adds that Finland has estimated applying genetic knowledge to identify people at risk of diabetes and work to prevent disease could save tens of millions otherwise spent on healthcare.
"If Ireland becomes the 17th country to sign up to the international agreement on genome research in the EU, it would be a good start," Harrold adds. "If we could listen to the geneticists and start planning for the future, like Britain, Finland, and Estonia, who are quickly leaving us behind, it would be even better."