Comparing different scientific approaches to personalized medicine: research ethics and privacy protection

Per Med. 2011 Jul;8(4):437-444. doi: 10.2217/pme.11.34.


In this article, two different scientific approaches to personalized medicine are compared. Biorepository at Vanderbilt University (BioVU) is a genomic biorepository at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN, USA. Genetic biosamples are collected from leftover clinical blood samples; medical information is derived from an electronic medical records. Greifswald Approach to Individualized Medicine is a research resource at the University of Greifswald, Germany, comprised of clinical records combined with biosamples collected for research. We demonstrate that although both approaches are based on the collection of clinical data and biosamples, different legal milieus present in the USA and Germany as well as slight differences in scientific goals have led to different 'ethical designs'. While BioVU can successfully operate with an 'opt-out' mechanism, an informed consent-based 'opt-in' model is indispensable to allow GANI_MED to reach its scientific goals.