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Human Genome Data to be Made Public

This afternoon, Harvard University will launch a program designed to advance genome research by having volunteers post their genetic information and medical history online so researchers can access them easily.

The group of ten volunteers, many of them well-known researchers, had their DNA studied by the Personal Genome Project. That's an effort to understand the genetic basis of disease and other traits.

John Halamka, chief information officer at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is one of the volunteers. He says he'll disclose his genetic information no matter what it reveals.

"If you're told you have a risk of heart disease that's 20 percent higher than an average person, you have a risk of colon cancer that's 50 percent higher, I think knowing the probabilities would be of great benefit."

That's because you could try to prevent those diseases by changing your lifestyle or taking certain medications.

This program aired on October 20, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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