Recorded: 14 May 2004
Determining the human genome sequence and also releasing it freely in the public domain, certainly created an important area for discussion and debate on the ethics, not only of having the genome sequence—which itself is undoubtedly an enormous benefit. It is anonymous and intentionally so. Therefore having it is essentially a very useful, important source of knowledge for the future. The major ethical problem it creates is when that information is used perhaps to develop personal genetic information. It is undoubtedly one of the potentially largest benefits of the genome project. Why are we characterizing what is essentially human, and genetic information about humans, if not to use it to benefit every individual?
David Bentley, molecular biologist and geneticist, is currently Vice President and Chief Scientist of DNA Sequencing at Illumina, Inc., a commercial developer of genetic analysis tools and systems.
Educated at the University of Cambridge (M.A. in biochemistry) and the University of Oxford (Ph. D.), Dr. Bentley was a postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, and senior lecturer at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital in London from 1991 to 1993 where he studied mutations that cause genetic diseases, and a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Medical & Molecular Genetics at the University of London.
In 1993 he was brought to Sanger Centre (now known as Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) as a founding member and head of human genetics by his mentor, John Sulston. Dr. Bentley led Sanger in their major contributions to the Human Genome Project, The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) Consortium, and the International Haplotype Mapping (HapMap) Project. Dr. Bentley left Wellcome in 1985 to join commercial sequencer, Solexa, Inc., as Chief Scientist where he was responsible for the Company’s DNA sequencing applications development and projects. Solexa was acquired by Illumina in 2007.