Versie oktober 2012
Voorbeeld Engelstalige schrijfopdracht
On the $ 1000 Genome Future
James D. Watson was the co-discoverer of the DNA double helix structure (1953) and founding father of the $ 3 billion / 13 year Human Genome Project, which completed the first human genome in 2003. James Watson was also the first person to receive his own personal genome – all 3 billion base pairs of his DNA sequenced. The cost was $ 1 million, and the process took two months. A copy of his full diploid genome, recorded on two DVDs, was presented to the 79 year old Nobel laureate on May 31, 2007 in a ceremony in Houston. This event marked what many scientists believe is the gateway to an impending era of personalized genomic medicine. Only a few days later, the second personal genome was made available to researchers: that of J. Craig Venter. His company, Celera Corporation, started a human genome project in competition with Watson’s government project in 1998, and completed it successfully also in 2003.
Importantly, Watson said at the occasion that he will make his entire genome available for researchers to study, with the single exception of his apolipoprotein E gene, the status of which he does not wish to know because it predisposes a person towards Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, he made public that his DNA demonstrates a predisposition for cancer: he himself had skin cancer; his sister currently had breast cancer.
Amy L. McGuire, a medical ethicist involved in the Watson sequencing project, commented that Watson and Venter were following the medical tradition of making oneself the first subject of a new experiment and would incur unknown risks: their genomes are likely to contain mutations that could lead to disease, revealing unfavorable information about themselves and their relatives.
The National Institutes of Health in the USA predicted that technological advances could bring down the cost for full personal genome sequencing from $ 1 million in 2007 to $ 1000 by the year 2014. If so, this would bring into reach the sequencing of anyone’s genome at affordable cost and speed. It thus seems that most of us not only will live to see full genome sequencing and testing become commonplace; we will also soon be confronted individually and as a society with far-reaching and yet unforeseeable consequences of these advances in medical technology.
Read the above text carefully, and write a coherent essay (400-600 words) in which you perform the following tasks:
Give your personal assessment of, and views on, the $1000 Genome Future in which you take into consideration:
1. The possible implications for future medical research and practice.
2. The possible personal and societal implications of discoveries of genetic variations that contribute to individual characteristics, such as intelligence, physical appearance, behavior, etc.