Research ethics and the challenge of whole-genome sequencing

Nat Rev Genet. 2008 Feb;9(2):152-6. doi: 10.1038/nrg2302.


The recent completion of the first two individual whole-genome sequences is a research milestone. As personal genome research advances, investigators and international research bodies must ensure ethical research conduct. We identify three major ethical considerations that have been implicated in whole-genome research: the return of research results to participants; the obligations, if any, that are owed to participants' relatives; and the future use of samples and data taken for whole-genome sequencing. Although the issues are not new, we discuss their implications for personal genomics and provide recommendations for appropriate management in the context of research involving individual whole-genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Research*
  • Family
  • Genome, Human*
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Public Policy
  • Publishing / ethics
  • Publishing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Research / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Research Subjects / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / ethics*
  • Third-Party Consent / legislation & jurisprudence