CDPH vs. UC Berkeley
You probably saw in the news that the California Department of Public Health stopped UC Berkeley’s Bring Your Genes to Cal program. That was an interesting program which the school had put together this year where the incoming freshman could send in a saliva sample. Then, when they arrived at school, they be presented with a report of which alleles they have for each of three genes. These would be genes for lactose intolerance, alcohol metabolism, and homocysteine regulation.
The health department’s argument is that this is medical information and the school can’t give it out. It needs to be done by a licensed health care provider and the analysis needs to be done at a licensed medical lab. That’s pretty ridiculous. I can understand the financial incentive which doctors have to retain control of the pipeline between people and their genetic data, but this one is pretty over the top. Think about the three genes we’re talking about here. They’re nice clear, simple, uncontroversial examples. And it was a voluntary program. And this data would be given to the students in an environment where the meaning, error rates, and statistics would be discussed and the students would be encouraged to do their own research on the subject. God forbid we let schools encourage students to learn something.