The spring genetics undergraduate course taught by Penny Avoles Kianian, assistant professor of practice genetics, worked with the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on items related to genetic/genome databases and biobanks. As technology develops there will be increased access to DNA sequencing technology, and genome analysis will be an important part of a typical medical record, Kianian said.
No universal policies governing the use of genetic/genomic information currently exist in the United States. The commission sought input on the concerns regarding privacy of stakeholders, such as patients, individuals, research participants, medical professional and society, access to genetic/genome and control of access, according to Kianian.
More than 200 students participated in the service-learning activity. The students had the opportunity to read, discuss, argue and present their opinions in small groups before a full classroom discussion. It was exciting to hear the diverse opinions of students on these issues that will likely affect each of them at some point in their life, Kianian said.
According to Kianian, this type of group activity engages students in a current event and provides an opportunity to think through a difficult problem without an easy solution. It also was a chance for students to practice skills in public discourse and finding consensus with others of diverse opinions. All inputs were summarized in letters and submitted to the commission for their consideration.
The commission will review the input provided by the genetics course before their recommendations are presented to the president in the fall of 2012.
For more information on the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, visit www.bioethics.gov.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.