We now have the technology to determine a newborn child’s likelihood of having terminal Huntington’s disease.  We can now friend a stranger who has the same number of VK0RC1 enzymes on a niched social network, 23andme.  We now have the ability to accurately dose medicine with a single algorithm without the need for clinical trials.

Genomics, the study of using one’s genetic makeup to understand one’s phenotype, is one of the fastest growing fields of modern science. Genomics as applied to humans is a field of study that sequences DNA stored in our 23 pairs of chromosomes represented in billions of nucleotide base pairs.  Computing has enabled the large-scale data manipulation required in the high throughput discipline, allowing for personal genotyping at affordable costs.  However, while the increasing power of computing has improved the power of genotyping and understanding of our most personal information, it has brought about a lieu of ethical dilemmas, ranging from privacy issues to rights of designing life.

This project, authored by Stanford undergraduate students Maverick Chea, Kristian Gampong, Paul Lee, Brian O’Conor, and Keebuhm Park, offers an overview of computing’s role in genomics and a series of ethical issues associated with the field. Our presentation’s slides can be found here.