David Bentley on Dangers of Genomic Research: The Possibility of Misusing Information
  David Bentley     Biography    
Recorded: 14 May 2004

Clearly, there are dangers to genetic research or having genomic information from the ethical point of view. Clearly there is a danger in being determined or being described by the nature of one’s genetic makeup. There’s a possibility of a great misunderstanding. Genetic information can be misinterpreted and can be willfully misinterpreted. So there are problems there. That people can use information, particularly genetics—speaking personally, is a very important benchmark. The genetic sequence is digital, it’s accurate; it really is a true reflection of what my genes are. But nevertheless, what the implications are and what might actually happen to me as a result is not clear. There are risks. Those risks may never turn to reality. That information can be misused and there is a great danger in the possible misuse of that information. We have to begin to tread a line between the fact that we want this information widely used, [and] to be freely available and yet not subject to abuse.

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.