Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Biomedical ethics 2.0: redefining the meaning of disease, patient and treatment

The foundations of biomedical ethics were established in the 2nd half of the 20th century, but issues associated with medical practice continue to evolve from new technologies. Recent progress in genomics and genome engineering has changed the meaning of the basic words of medicine: disease, patient and treatment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


The author acknowledges colleagues John Sadler, Tom Mayo, Matthew Brown and William Snell for their help with this essay.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Frederick Grinnell.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Grinnell, F. Biomedical ethics 2.0: redefining the meaning of disease, patient and treatment. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 21, 417–418 (2020).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing