Ethical issues raised by whole genome sequencing

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Apr;28(2):269-79. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


While there is ongoing discussion about the details of implementation of whole genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES), there appears to be a consensus amongst geneticists that the widespread use of these approaches is not only inevitable, but will also be beneficial [1]. However, at the present time, we are unable to anticipate the full range of uses, consequences and impact of implementing WGS and WES. Nevertheless, the already known ethical issues, both in research and in clinical practice are diverse and complex and should be addressed properly presently. Herein, we discuss the ethical aspects of WGS and WES by particularly focussing on three overlapping themes: (1) informed consent, (2) data handling, and (3) the return of results.

Keywords: Medical ethics; Next generation sequencing; Whole genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Genetic
  • Exome*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genomics / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*
  • Statistics as Topic