The Challenges and Impact of Human Genome Research for Minority Communities
from a conference presented by
Betty Mansfield, Human Genome Management Information System
The large, multidisciplinary Human Genome Project (HGP) – the effort to find all human genes and characterize a reference genome—promises to revolutionize the future so profoundly that this has been dubbed the "biology century." Almost everyone will be affected by applications of information and technologies derived from the HGP era of the late 20th century. Entirely new approaches will be implemented in biological research and the practice of medicine and agriculture. Genetic data will provide the foundation for research in many biological subdisciplines, leading to an unprecedented understanding of the inner workings of whole biological systems. The benefits of genomic research are, or soon will be realized in such areas as forensics and identification science, ecology and environmental science, toxic-waste cleanup, creation of new bioenergy sources and more efficient industrial processes, and understanding the mysteries of evolution, anthropology, and human migration.
Among the fields that HGP research will impact are engineering, computer science, mathematics, counseling, sociology, ethics, religion, law, agriculture, education, pharmaceuticals, instrumentation, nuclear medicine, forensics, bioremediation, biofuels, and journalism. Cross-disciplinary students with solid backgrounds in science and in one or more other fields such as journalism, law, and computer science will be needed to tackle the issues and applications arising from the HGP.
Commercialization of numerous applications in genomic science is fueling the burgeoning life sciences economic sector. Legislation and litigation increasingly will be concerned with genetics and the intellectual-property issues pertaining to genetic information and technologies. Educators, the media, students, and the public need a good understanding of the "new genetics" and its implications to communicate, teach, and help others make related career and personal decisions. Democratizing access to genetic science information should help maximize HGP benefits while protecting against misuse of the data. Every effort must be made to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, citizenship, or national origin, enjoys the benefits of genomics research and its subsequent applications, including life improvements and excellent career possibilities. Society simultaneously must be protected from such possible negative impacts as the failure to preserve the privacy of individual genetic information.
People who pursued careers in fields such as business that traditionally did not require life sciences training are increasingly finding that, at the very least, they need a working knowledge of the principles of biology and life science research and development. Presented below are some traditional and new bioscience career possibilities, followed by some educational strategies for pursuing such careers.
Possible Career Areas in Bioscience
Note: The biotechnology industry has doubled in the past six years. In 1999, there were 437,400 U.S. jobs in the field (150,800 direct; 286,600 indirect), and more opportunities are expected in healthcare, food production, and environmental cleanup (Ernst & Young, May 2000, www.bio.org). In regard to the burgeoning drug industry based on genomics, the spring 1999 issue of the Consulting Resources Corporation’s newsletter for biotechnology professional said, "We expect the growing family of new genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics technologies to dominate the next decade’s developments in therapeutics by greatly improving the efficiency and speed of the entire drug discovery, testing, and approval process."Medicine
Agriculture and Wildlife
Computing and Bioinformatics requires experts in both biology and computing)
Legal and Justice
History and Anthropology
Audiences: public, media, judiciary, legal and medical professionals, consumers, Congress, researchers, educators and students
Preparing for a Career in the Biosciences
More Information on the Web
Human Genome Project Information: Careers in Genetics and the Biosciences
Guide to North American Graduate and Post-Graduate Training Programs in Human Genetics
Biology Careers for the Next Century from Carolina Biological Supply
Careers in Biotechnology from the Access Excellence home page
Functional Genomics Careers from The Scientist
Science Careers from Science Magazine
This work is sponsored by the office of Biological and Environmental Research, U.S. Department of Energy, under contract No. DE-AC05-96OR22464 with UT-Battelle, LLC.
|The online presentation of this publication is a special feature of the Human Genome Project Information Web site.|