Recorded: 03 Mar 2006
From the very beginning we knew that there were a lot of dangers involved in genomic research. I give a lot of credit to Jim Watson for his insistence that when the project was launched, we needed to devote significant resources, something between three to five percent of all the funding for the project to the ethical, legal and social implications of sequencing the human genome. I think that those investments have paid handsomely in terms of scholarly research, understanding, the spread of knowledge and the raising of awareness of some of the dangers that are implicit in having that type of genetic information. Dangers that deal with, you know, discrimination in employment, discrimination in health insurance or life insurance. I think we are much, much smarter than we would have been had we not made that particular investment in this ELSI research. I’m disappointed in the legal framework, you know, in the legislative front we should have been further ahead in terms of protecting some of those rights and criminalizing discrimination on the basis that I described. But, you know, it is an imperfect world. We are making progress and ultimately I think the right laws will be passed that will protect against that type of abuse.
Ari Patrinos, currently is a president of Synthetic Genomics, Inc. He is best known for his leading roles in the development of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the U.S. Human Genome Project. He earned his undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and astronautical sciences from Northwestern University.
Patrinos has worked in Department of Energy (DOE) Laboratory system since 1973. His research area includes biomedical engineering, atmospheric turbulence, environmental chemistry, climate change, and statistical methods. In 1995 he became the Associate Director for Biological and Environmental Research in the DOE Office of Science and was responsible for human and microbial genome programs, structural biology, nuclear medicine and health effects, global environmental change. He helped create the DOE's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in 1997 and developed the DOE's Genomes to Life Program.
He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Geophysical Union, and a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society.