Lunch just ended. There are 3 different seminar choices to choose from. Im attending the ethics talks, something I feel I need to to be more informed about.

The first talk is about identifiability of the human biome and data sharing. The speaker is covering current policy with regards to patient privacy. Theres a lot of aggregate DNA data in the public domain. The problem is that this data is potentially identifieble. For example there was a database of DNA found at the 9/11 site(why?) and you could potentially use a loved ones known DNA to find them in the database, causing a shift to a firewall. Some people has thought this

Microbiome specific issues:

Microbiome  data contains human DNA contamination. So what level of risk is acceptable? If these rare sequences are filtered out strictly theres the cost

There are critics who think this is a waste of time. The critisms range from that its impossible to completly remove identifiable, to dismisal of concerns that while its theoretically possible to maybe identify someone from this data it would take so much work that no one would care enough to look into it.

Anouther issue is the identifiability of the human microbiome itself. Is our microbiome DNA part of us?

The last issue is how to link human data to microbial dna. How comfortable are we with potentially compromising privacy for very valuable data sharing?

Risks are low but since we dont know for sure how it could be used in the future we should err on the side of caution. But on the otherhand the potential benefits to society of public release are great.


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