Nature Reviews Genetics 9, 152-156 (February 2008) | doi:10.1038/nrg2302

Science and societyResearch ethics and the challenge of whole-genome sequencing

Amy L. McGuire1, Timothy Caulfield2 & Mildred K. Cho3  About the authors


The recent completion of the first two individual whole-genome sequences is a research milestone. As personal genome research advances, investigators and international research bodies must ensure ethical research conduct. We identify three major ethical considerations that have been implicated in whole-genome research: the return of research results to participants; the obligations, if any, that are owed to participants' relatives; and the future use of samples and data taken for whole-genome sequencing. Although the issues are not new, we discuss their implications for personal genomics and provide recommendations for appropriate management in the context of research involving individual whole-genome sequencing.

Author affiliations

  1. Amy L. McGuire is at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
  2. Timothy Caufield is at the Health Law Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H5, Canada.
  3. Mildred K. Cho is at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

Correspondence to: Timothy Caulfield2 Email: