“The Play’s the Thing” at American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting in Boston

A provocative new interactive play, “The Drama of DNA: Anticipating the Future with WGS,” was performed by a cast of distinguished genomics professionals on the first evening, Tuesday, October 22, of the 2013 American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meeting in Boston. The play was hugely popular. It was sold out two weeks after the availability of tickets was announced and at the end of the play many in the audience were asking how they could implement such an innovative approach at their own institution or organization. In the play, fictionalized characters explored a hypothetical research protocol in which the entire DNA codes of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), their “unaffected” siblings and parents, including their pregnant mothers, would be deciphered. The play brought to life the challenges and potential implications of using whole genome sequencing (WGS) in research and medicine, said the co- authors, Lynn W. Bush, Ph.D., M.S., M.A., and Karen Rothenberg, J.D., M.P.A. Dr. Bush, a psychologist and bioethicist, is on the faculty of pediatric clinical genetics at Columbia University. Rothenberg, the founding director of the Law and Health Care program and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, is Senior Advisor on Genomics and Society to the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Director Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., one of the play’s 13 “actors” who performed in the play. Among the other genomics professionals who participated in the play were: Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics, Stanford School of Medicine; Vence Bonham, J.D., Chief of the Education and Involvement Branch of the NHGRI; Jeff Botkin, M.D., M.P.H.., Chief of Medical Ethics, University of Utah Health Care; Malia Fullerton, D.
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