A scientist from the University of Brighton is calling on everyone to consider making this information available for the greater public good.
Professor Colin Smith recently joined the University of Brighton to help establish a new genomics facility and new interdisciplinary research programmes. He is also the first person in the UK to have his complete genome sequence made publicly available for research purposes by donating it under ‘open consent’.
Commenting on his decision as part of a platform discussion at this year’s British Science Festival, Professor Smith said: “Many people have genuine concerns that having their genome mapped will reveal things about themselves that they would rather not know. They also worry that making this information publicly available will also mean a complete loss of personal anonymity.
“Clearly a few genome sequences are not going to be that useful but once thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of individual human genome sequences are in the public domain – and are linked to environment, personal traits and health information it’s going to be a completely different story.
“I am convinced that analysis of all this public data by the international scientific and the ‘citizen science’ community is going to benefit many. For example, it is likely to flag up potential health risks for individuals that could be acted upon sooner rather than later.”
Professor Smith donated his genome sequence through the Personal Genome Project UK.