Open Access

Public Health Genomics (PHG): From Scientific Considerations to Ethical Integration

Genomics, Society and Policy20073:14

DOI: 10.1186/1746-5354-3-3-14

Published: 15 December 2007

Abstract

Recent advances in our understanding of the human genome have raised high hopes for the creation of personalized medicine able to predict diseases well before they occur, or that will lead to individualized and therefore more effective treatments. This possibility of a more accurate science of the prevention and surveillance of disease also illuminates the field of public health, where the translation of genomic knowledge could provide tools enhancing the capacity of public health authorities to promote health and prevent diseases. But beyond scientific considerations, the use of genomics in public health research and interventions gives rise to several ethical and social issues of great importance. Considering the impact that PHG could have on the future of public health while still paying attention to the uncertainty surrounding the use of genomic databases for the benefit of populations, this article seeks to explore the promise of genomics in public health and the ethical issues that emerge from its application.