Health Care

Bill Gates Says He will Release His Personal Genome

With one caveat: he will not have his genome sequenced and release it until after the top 20 infectious diseases have been cured.
On Wednesday, 4/23, the University of Washington Department of Genome Sciences kicked of their 2008 Symposium with a Special Panel Discussion: The Personal Genome: Consequences for Society.
Gates joined Dr. George Church, Dr. Eric Lander and Dr. Leena Peltonen on the panel. After a 15 minute introduction by Dr. Lander the panel, moderated by Dr. Maynard Olson, answered questions from the audience, local and online, for the next 90 minutes. For example:

  • The personal genome is likely to benefit only those in developed countries. How will it assist undeveloped countries?
  • Does all this knowledge of genetic variations risk a world of designer babies?
  • Given the influence of environment over our health doesn’t the public over emphasize the power of genes?

Some important points:

  • Even though dramatic advances are being made at an accelerating pace genomicists are still just scratching the surface,
  • 2) there are significant privacy issues to be worked out,
  • there is a high risk of misuse and abuse of genomic information and
  • public education on genomicsand collaboration with the public on the above and related issues will be critical.

You can stream a video of this Panel Discussion. Dr. Lander’s introduction is worth the price of admission and Gates’ commitment is near the end of the program.

A Quick Fix for Obesity?

The genetic basis of human weight control is complex. New research suggests that as many as 6000 genes may be involved in determining body weight.

“Our results suggest that each newly discovered gene is just one of the many thousands that influence body weight, so a quick fix to the obesity problem is unlikely.”

The idea that we as individuals, families and society can screw up our bodies and then go down to a Doc and get a quick fix is one of the major issues with rising health care costs.
Take care of yourself in the first place and most of you will not need a quick fix for obesity…be it a pill or bariatric surgery.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not object to the research. Rather, I object to the idea that a magic pill or a genetic modification that will help you lose weight is the fix that is needed.
A long term solution is needed and that will mean dismantling a good part of the culture of obesity that we live in.

I’m overweight. I’ve already taken a short walk and I’ll be on my erg in about 2 hours. Have you exercised today?