Bruce Roe on Ethics & Genomic Information
  Bruce Roe     Biography    
Recorded: 29 May 2003

That’s just; I don’t know anybody that knows the answer. I know that you and I would probably say, gee, if somebody is pregnant and they are going to have a girl you and I would both say, oh, they should have that girl. Gee, but if you live in China and they find out it’s a girl they’re doing euthanasia on these kids. And they’re doing abortions and stuff because it’s not in their society, in part of their society, people there are sort of a little bit twisted, you know, think that’s not a good thing. So we’re going to have misuses of things. And I think we need to deal with them with reason and logic, okay? Okay, if you say, oh, it’s a delight if everybody has blue eyes. I look at our eyes; they’re all brown, okay? So, you know, I’d vote for brown-eyed people, you know. But, let’s say somebody says, oh, yeah, I want my child to have blue eyes, you know. That’s kind of silly to me. I don’t think that people should do that. I think that people should be more concerned about giving us the idea that, you know, we have the predisposition to some cancer or some other—heart attack or whatever at some early age. And I think then we can have preventive medicine for that and that’s where medical care is going. So I mean I think we have to be sensible, all right? But I don’t think we need to be crazy and say, okay, well because there is the ability to abuse something we shouldn’t do it. I also think that it’s silly for us to say because we know how to do something; we should do it, okay? I know how to drive car, right, lots of people die in automobile accidents. Are they going to ban automobiles? No, they’re going to say, oh, okay you can drive your car within limits. And if you exceed that limit you get a ticket. And if you exceed that limit several times, we take away your ability to drive. And so I think that we’re going to have to have those kinds of laws [or] at least some reasonable laws. I’m concerned that people have swung too far towards don’t do it! So, like this really, really important stem cell research, right? People are using reasons that I don’t think are logical to say we shouldn’t do them. So I think that reasonable minds then are going to have to prevail. And I hope that that’s the way our government works. And democracy works that way.

Bruce Roe is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a Ph.D in biochemistry from the University of Western Michigan and received a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship to research at SUNY Stony Brook. He spent his 1978-79 sabbatical at Fred Sanger’s lab, where he helped develop the renowned method of DNA sequencing currently used today.

Roe is founding director of the Advanced Center for Genomic Technology (ACGT) at the U. of Oklahoma, one of the first large-scale sequencing facilities in the US. At present, the ACGT innovates computational and robotic methods to analyze DNA sequence results and is currently determining the nucleotide sequence of five microbial genomes. In 1999, Roe’s research led to the elucidation and publication of the complete sequence of human chromosome 22. This was the first human chromosome to be sequenced in its entirely.

He has attended genome meetings and symposia at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for over 20 years.