Living With and Leveraging Genetic Destiny: Genetics and Athletics

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Special issue in the journal "Recent Patents on DNA & Gene Sequences."

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The Olympics raise non-trivial issues in athletic enhancement and fair-play in sports. This publication provides a thorough analysis of the ethical, social, legal & scientific issues related to enhancement in general, and genetic issues in particular

This special issue, timed to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games, looks broadly at the relationship between genes and athleticism. With 12 articles from a wide-ranging group of academics and practitioners across multiple disciplines, the special issue aims to cover the scientific, ethical, legal and social concerns associated with recent developments in this area.

The issue's editor, Dov Greenbaum, notes that "this special issue is timely and relevant: The personal genomics industry, spurred on by precipitously falling sequencing and computational costs has brought affordable and accessible genomic analysis to the masses. In addition, Oscar Pistorius, a South African double amputee, will be participating in the 400m and the 4X400m relay in the Olympics against able bodied peers. Pistorius' participation raises a host of issues, not least of which is how do we define enhancement and fairness in sport."

Legal, Ethical and Social Concerns:

  •     Professor Sonia Suter, Professor of Law at George Washington University School of Law, examines legal and privacy concerns from a different perspective, looking at the fan's relatively unhindered ability to extract private DNA information.
  •     Intellectual property attorneys Dr. Andrew Kumamoto and Cora L. Schmid, law partners at HelixIP LLP, a Silicon Valley patent litigation, prosecution and strategic counseling law firm, provide keen insight as to how recent Supreme Court case law may affect the patentability of genetic correlations.
  •     Professor Shawneequa Callier, Assistant Professor in the Department of Clinical Research and Leadership at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at The George Washington University, analyzes some legal issues from the standpoint of privacy, particularly in the closed knit environment of a sports team where privacy is already at a minimum.
  •     Professor Maxwell Mehlman, the Arthur E. Petersilge Professor of Law and Director of the Law-Medicine Center, Case School of Law, and Professor of Biomedical Ethics, Case School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, looks into concerns arising from applying knowledge discovered through the research into athletics and genetics to performance enhancement.
  •     And, Professor Andy Miah, a Professor in Ethics & Emerging Technologies and Director of the Creative Futures Research Centre at the University of the West of Scotland, examines the ethics of using genomics to further understand and even enhance an athlete's athletic abilities.

On the more scientific side:

  •     Dr. Stephen M. Roth, Associate Professor and Director of the Functional Genomics Laboratory and Exercise Physiology Research Labs in the Department of Kinesiology at the School of Public Health, University of Maryland, examines the potential for applying genetic testing to improve athletic talent identification.
  •     Dr. Mark Gerstein, the A. L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Yale University, co-director of the Yale Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program, and his co-authors at Yale University, focus on investigating the connection between genotype and athletic phenotype in the context of four genes in various sport fields and across different ethnicities and genders.
  •      Dr. Malcolm Collins, the Chief Specialist Scientist at the South African Medical Research Council and Associate Professor, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, and coauthors, reviewed the evidence for the genetic predisposition to soft tissue injury, as well as the application of this data in the prevention, treatment and management of musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries.
  •     Dr. Graeme Smith, Chief Scientific Officer at MyGene, an Australian biotechnology company that provides genetic tests, and his coauthors, examine the utility in sports genetic testing in light of unknowns regarding exactly what can be interpreted from our genetic results noting that genetic correlations needs to be precisely defined and limited to what has been demonstrated by repeated scientific studies.
  •     Dr. Marios Kambouris, Professor at Shafallah Medical Genetics Center, Doha, Qatar and Chief Scientific Officer at Gonidio International, a Direct-to-Consumer Predictive Genomics company, and his team, argue that genetic testing should not be used to detect athletes with elite potential or diagnose tendinopathies, rather it is indicative of genetic “trends” of individuals and should be used as a tool to guide athletes, and even non-athletes to the maximal utilization of their potential, possibly leading to improved performance in sports.
  •     Dr. Emmeline W. Hill, co-founder and chairman of Equinome --a company founded to assist the Thoroughbred horse industry to maximise the genetic potential of each horse through the development and provision of novel genetic tests, and College Lecturer in the School of Agriculture & Food Science at the Veterinary Science Centre at University College Dublin, and her coauthors, examine the application of genetic data with regard to thoroughbred race horses, and how information in the industry may enable informed decision making in breeding and racing and to assist selection to accelerate the rate of change of genetic types among distinct populations and within individual breeding operations.
  •     And Dr. Dietrich Stephan, who is President and CEO, Silicon Valley Biosystems and Co-Founder of Navigenics --an early personal genomics company that aims to improve health outcomes across the population by providing clinically actionable genetic insights, discusses the technical revolution in genome sequencing that allows us to test athletes for performance-associated gene variants; suggesting however, that the information is useful only in protecting against injury not in determining performance potential.

Dr. Greenbaum, who personally invited each of the authors to participate, commented that, "each one of these papers stands on their own merits, but together they provide a thorough and comprehensive analysis of this emerging field."

For Further Information: Contact:
Dov Greenbaum
CELL 917 365 1848
EMAIL dov.greenbaum(at)yale(dot)edu

Dr. Greenbaum is an Assistant Professor (adj) in the Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry at Yale University, a non-resident fellow at the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences, Stanford University and an Attorney at Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer. (Opinions expressed herein may not reflect the opinions of this firm, its employees, its clients, or its associates)

Recent Patents on DNA and Gene Sequences is published by Bentham Science. The journal publishes review, research articles, drug clinical trial studies and guest edited thematic issues on recent patents in the field of DNA and Gene Sequence. A selection of important and recent patents in the field is also included in the journal. The journal is essential reading for all researchers involved in DNA and gene sequences. Humera Sharif, Journal Manager and Christian Bronner, Editor in Chief.

Recent Patents on DNA & Gene Sequences is indexed in Chemical Abstracts, Scopus, MEDLINE/PubMed, EMBASE, EMBiology, Genamics JournalSeek, MediaFinder®-Standard Periodical Directory, PubsHub, J-Gate.

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Dov Greenbaum JD PhD

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