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Research in the wild


In publishing 'His daughter's DNA (Nature 449, 773–776; 2007), Nature is contributing to an important trend of involving the public in human genetics investigations. Laypeople and advocacy groups are demanding a say in biomedical research by contributing towards its funding and coordination, and even to the development of therapies.

As befits the genomic age, this collective activity is altering interactions among patients, medical professionals and scientists. It is stimulating unlikely alliances among academia, private donors, commerce, patient networks, the media and the state. New forms of solidarity are emerging.

The story of this child and her committed scientist father illustrates the emergence of a new form of social solidarity, founded on genetics. We have become witnesses and participants in a genetics experiment — the girl's problem and her father's are made into our problem. The rest of us need to pay close attention and offer feedback.

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Van Hoyweghen, I., Penders, B. Research in the wild. Nature 450, 478 (2007).

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