January 2020 Seminar

Amy McGuire, Baylor College of Medicine:
“Genetic Privacy and Investigative Genetic Genealogy”

January 14

Palmer Commons
100 Washtenaw Avenue

4th floor, Great Lakes Room


Amy McGuire, JD, PhD, is the Leon Jaworski Professor of Biomedical Ethics and Director of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. She researches ethical and policy issues related to emerging technologies, with a particular focus on genomic research, personalized medicine, and the clinical integration of novel brain implant devices. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. McGuire has received numerous teaching awards at Baylor College of Medicine, was recognized by the Texas Executive Women as a Woman on the Move in 2016, and was invited to give a TedMed talk, titled “There is no Genome for the Human Spirit,” in 2014. She has served as a member of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research and as an advisor to the X Prize in Genomics. Currently, McGuire is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars Program in Bioethics, sits on the executive committee for the Health Policy Institute for the Texas Medical Center, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Geisinger Research and The Morgridge Institute.

“Genetic Privacy and Investigative Genetic Genealogy”
In 2018, law enforcement identified a suspect in the Golden State Killer case by matching the genomic profile of DNA left at crime scenes to those held in genetic genealogy databases and by using inferred ancestral relationships and genealogical mapping to generate promising investigative leads. Since then, hundreds of cold cases have been solved using similar investigative strategies. Critics argue that investigative genetic genealogy violates the privacy of direct-to-consumer genetic testing customers and their genetic relatives, and some scholars worry that this will have a negative impact on data sharing in research and clinical care. During this session, we will explore the ethical, legal, and social implications of law enforcement access to DNA data collected and shared for non-forensic purposes and how best to balance competing interests in promoting public trust and protecting public safety.