03/08/2007 - My name is Kathy Hudson and I am the Director of the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, where I am also Associate Professor in the Berman Institute of Bioethics and in the Institute of Genetic Medicine. Established with a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Genetics and Public Policy Center works to help policy makers and the public better understand and respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from rapid advances in human genetics and its application to healthcare. Since our founding in 2002, the Genetics and Public Policy Center has conducted in-depth policy analysis and social science research on genetic testing and genetic technologies. This week the Center completed a survey of Americans’ attitudes about genetic testing and I am delighted to share our new results with you today.
I have been involved in genetics research and genetics policy for many years and have had the pleasure of providing technical assistance and advice to many members and their staff during the crafting of genetic non-discrimination legislation over the last decade. I am delighted to see momentum growing for passage of legislation to prevent genetic discrimination and I appreciate the opportunity to testify today.
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an historic international effort to decipher, letter by DNA letter, the genetic instruction book for our species. The Human Genome Project was more than a technological tour de force, and the results do more than satisfy biological curiosity. Researchers now have powerful tools to dissect the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to health and disease, and our nation’s robust biotechnology industry is translating those findings into new diagnostics and medicines to preserve health and prevent disease.
Today there are more than 1000 genetic tests available or in development. Tests are being developed for a wide variety of conditions but they have one thing in common: they provide information. Increasingly, this information can be used to inform personalized health care decisions. Within a decade, it may become common medical practice to test each one of us for our individual susceptibilities to common illnesses or our risk of adverse reactions to commonly prescribed medications. This knowledge will allow the use of individualized preventive care to maintain wellness and save countless dollars spent on trial-and-error prescribing of expensive or ineffective medicines.
Read the entire statement of Kathy Hudson before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the Genetics & Public Policy Center Web site or visit the Genetics and Public Policy Centeron PewHealth.org.