Here are a few famous researchers and celebrities that had their DNA sequenced.
By 2007, individuals began to have their genomes sequenced, and speak and write about it. Dr. Venter was first, his genome presented in PLoS Biology. He pondered the implications at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting a year later. Dr. Venter learned from his genome sequence that he has blue eyes and a tendency toward antisocial behavior, substance abuse, and novelty seeking. He found out he’s a fast caffeine metabolizer. “I can have two double lattes and wash it down with a Red Bull and not be affected by it,” he snarkily told the crowd. He also learned of elevated risk for Alzheimer disease and cardiovascular disease.
Next came James Watson, PhD, of double helix fame and first head of the human genome project. He discussed his genome at the 12th International Congress of Human Genetics in Montreal in October 2011. Dr. Watson learned he was a slow metabolizer of antipsychotics and beta blockers. His son nearly died from an antipsychotic. “So I now know that if I go psychotic, I can’t take those drugs.” And he learned why beta blockers for an irregular heartbeat knocked him out. He switched drugs.
Ron Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, had his genome sequenced to provide a control in a project to sequence the genomes of the people of Qatar. He discovered a mutation that explained his heavy bleeding following an injury from rappelling off a frozen waterfall a few years ago. He also discovered Viking roots, a recessive disease of children, and confirmed his baldness. But he voiced fears: his family learning things they didn’t want to know, even someone using his DNA sequence to frame him for a crime or to clone him.
Dr. Ron Crystal isn’t the only one to cite potential repercussions of knowing one’s genome sequence. Said Seong-Jin Kim, the first Korean to have his genome sequenced, and that of his wife and two daughters. “Genetic disease in Korea is thought to disgrace families, and so it’s difficult to convince families with diseases to be sequenced.” A bad result could be regarded as a curse. But he was interested in using sequencing to better understand gastric cancer, which is the most common form in Asia. “Did it change attitudes? After we released our sequence, the number of sequencing companies increased.”
Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) and Christopher Hitchens (famous author) had their cancer genomes sequenced, pancreatic and esophageal, respectively, and the information guided drug choices. (Steve Jobs died of pancreatic cancer – Christopher Hichens died of esophageal cancer) Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Host of Finding Your Roots) had his done to trace his ancestry. Glenn Close (Actress) reportedly did it to better understand mental illness in her family,
Would you want your genome sequenced? Why or why not.