At more colleges, classes on genetics get personal
IOWA CITY (AP) — Bakir Hajdarevic didn’t have to study for the most important test in a class last fall. He just had to spit — a lot.
The 19-year-old freshman at the University of Iowa took an honors seminar on personal genetics in which students had the option of sending saliva samples so a testing company could use DNA to unlock some of their most personal health and family secrets. The results would tell them how likely they were to get some forms of cancer, whether they were carriers for genetic diseases, where their ancestors came from, and a trove of other information.
The class, taught at Iowa for the first time, is part of a growing movement in higher education to tackle the rapidly advancing field of personal genetics, which is revolutionizing medicine and raising difficult ethical and privacy questions. The classes are forcing students to decide whether it is better to be ignorant or informed about possible health problems — a decision more Americans will confront as the price of genetic testing plummets and it becomes more popular.
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