The great Gene rides again

Among the volunteers (actually, we're all volunteers) at Geneforum, one of us has recently been (un)lucky enough to have his name confused with our mission.Greg Fowler

Greg Fowler, a founder of Geneforum, gave a couple of extended interviews lately. In addition to the initial printing of information from these interviews, another appeared a few days ago in ABC news, titled Paying for Professional DNA Analysis. I was reviewing this article as the source for my blog today when I came upon Dr. Fowler's new name -- Gene Fowler. How appropriate.

The article describes the DNA testing adventures of Art Thomas of Springfield, OH and Chuck Bryceland of Bronxville, NY. According to the article, Art

...turned to his body for answers [to his question, where did I come from?] He scraped a cell sample from inside his cheek, mailed the swab to a test lab and waited for science to supplement his extensive genealogical research.He "spent just under $300 for a package of two tests [from one vendor]. . .and $175 for a different test [from another vendor]. He learned that ". . . his genetic makeup [is] 49 percent European origin, 48 percent African-American and 3 percent Native American."

Unfortunately, the article does not report whether the test results from the two vendors were consistent.

Chuck, on the other hand,

...purchased two tests -- one to examine his genetic propensity for heart disease, another to screen for his body's ability to absorb nutrients. He paid $199 for one test, $99 for the other, which told him that he is unlikely to develop heart disease but that his body poorly absorbs Vitamin B. Since then, he's been campaigning to get his wife, his parents and other family members to take the tests, too.

Reasons for purchasing DNA tests vary, as described in this article. As one person said, "If there's information out there that we can use to help our health then why wouldn't I take it?"

And, finally, the article ended with the following text:

As marketers of such tests continue to reach out directly to consumers, more people may pursue a similar course of action. But its difficult to know what they'll make of the results, says Gene Fowler, a geneticist who teaches a class on ethics and DNA usage at Oregon's Portland State University.

Oh yes, our great and mighty leader does teach at PSU (as many of you readers know from earlier weblogs), and Greg doesn't really mind being called Gene.


Some words for the day--again to see if the blog shows up anywhere else--Iran, Bush, Berlusconi, weblog, and Technorati.....

Marie Godfrey, PhD

Genetizen's blog