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A case of genetic counselling for Dr Watson


Your recent publication of James Watson's sequenced genome (D. A. Wheeler at al. Nature 452, 872–876; 2008) makes for fascinating reading — that is, for anyone who has enough knowledge of genetics and biology to interpret it. Peel away the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the copy-number variations and the indels, and the core message seems, well, empty. As Maynard Olson admits in the accompanying News & Views (Nature 452, 819–820; 2008): “If Watson took his sequence to a genetic counsellor, there would be little to discuss.”

As a genetic counsellor, I wonder how a session with Watson would stack up against one with a non-scientific member of the general population? The table offers some insight.

Table 1

Where's the challenge in providing genetic counselling to 'Dr W'?

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Roche, M. A case of genetic counselling for Dr Watson. Nature 453, 281 (2008).

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