Biology Students Wrestle with Thorny Issues for Genomics Project

Students enrolled in Genomics (BIO428W) this spring, a Core Capstone offered through the Biology Department, confronted some of the complex ethical, legal, and social issues in the discipline as they worked on projects to create educational media productions.

genomics What is Genomics?

Genomics is the study of genomes, the complete set of genetic material present in a cell or organism. A person’s genetic information is very special when compared to other kinds of medical information. There are a number of reasons for the exceptional nature of genetic information. For example, DNA is shared between family members. Genetic conditions and predispositions are issues affecting families, not just individuals; thus, a diagnosis in one individual has implications for the genetic status of that individual’s family members. In some cases, some members of a family may not wish to know their status with regard to a condition or predisposition, and so individuals undergoing genetic testing have a responsibility to consider the implications of discovering their own genetic status on other family members. When discovering one’s own genetic status may mean inadvertently discovering the status of family members, how should we balance the rights of individuals to know, or to not know, their genetic status?

Questions and Implications

Genetic testing may impact the ability of an individual to gain employment or life insurance. How do we mitigate the potential for discrimination based on genetic status? How should we use information from genetic testing in family planning decisions? What boundaries should we set in terms of how genetic information is used? These are just some of the many ethical, legal, and social implications associated with genetics and genomics.

Our Genomics Educational Media Projects

As individuals and as a society, we must carefully consider such ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics. Students in Dr. Cameron’s Genomics course collaborated in groups to research and understand a specific topic of their choice regarding the ethical, legal, or social implications of genomics and then to create an educational media production to teach their classmates and the wider community about their chosen topic.

Using Biobanks to Solve Cold Cases (Podcast)
Katy Jenkins, Jonah Kasznay, Ryan Martin, and Aaliyah Russell


Considerations, Consequences, and Consent - The Truth about Commercial Genetic Testing (TED-Style Talk)
Diana Cando, John Doherty, and Ilyssa Marsh



Autopsy biobanking (Podcast)
Michael Landis, Emily Lybashev, and Morgan McCracken


Embryonic Editing - A Bundle of Problems (TED-Style Talk)
Samantha Holden, Bev Lewis, Kyle Schantz, and Hunter Throne


Consent in Genetic Testing and Genomics  (Documentary)
Ryan Bernier, Bryson Bugdon, and Erica Locke