I'm kicking myself for not listening to it live, but today's Science Friday on National Public Radio tackled, with the help of a couple of Stanford experts and their colleagues, a tough issue in genetic disclosure that I've written about here before. According to the description on the show's website:
When doctors run out of clues on how to treat a cancer patient, they sometimes order a scan of all the patient's genes. But such a test can turn up unexpected results, such as greater risk of another disease. When are doctors obligated to tell the patient what they know? And do patients have the right not to know?
Stanford bioethicist and law professor Hank Greely, JD, and genetic councilor Kelly Ormond joined two colleagues and host Ira Flatow in a half-hour discussion about just how much might be too much information for patients and doctors. And, although I haven't listened yet (the audio of the discussion has just been posted), I can guess the punchline: There's no black-and-white answer. Patients, researchers and clinicians alike (and, yes, even science writers!) are all stumbling into a brave new world in genetics and genomics that right now has more questions than answers. That's why I'm excited to hear what Greely and his colleagues have to say.
An aside: I didn't learn of the show ahead of time, but got wind of it via Twitter. As my colleague pointed out here earlier today, more and more scientists and science writers are using Twitter to stay connected and keep informed about events like conferences and media coverage in (nearly) real time. I certainly consider it one of my more valuable resources. If you're interested in trying it out yourself, experiment with following organizations as well as people (the Science Friday radio show tweets its content each week as @SciFri, for example). But Greely, who tweets as @HankGreelyLSJU, has also been disclosing interesting tidbits about today's show.
Previously: New recommendations for genetic disclosure released, When it comes to your genetic data, 23andMe's Anne Wojciciki says: Just own it and Stanford neurologist discusses role of amyloid proteins in the nervous system on Science Friday