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The Geneticist Will Skype you Now

One of the more startling statistics I learned last year came from something by geneticist and science writer Misha Angrist: At least as of a couple years ago, there were roughly as many board-certified physician-geneticists as astronauts in the United States. This is a problem, given that our need for trained geneticists is likely to be a great deal higher than our need for astronauts in the coming decade.

Take the Genetic Test for Longevity

What if there was a simple spit test you could do that would predict how long you are likely to live? Would you want to know?

Having this kind of test may be closer than we think. A study done by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine was just published in Science to show 33 SNPs that are associated with exceptional longevity.

What's the Worst that Could Happen?

About a month ago, the World Health Organization released a statement condemning groups who claim that the WHO created a sense of fear and hysteria surrounding the H1N1 flu in order to help vaccine manufacturers sell vaccines. And at some level, it's not surprising that people have begun to question the effectiveness of the vaccine: I was vaccinated against H1N1 in January and haven't been sick since then, but that isn't proof, per se, that the vaccine prevented the flu.

Screening the Genes of Embryos

At the beginning of the year, Duke professor David Goldstein offered what he described as a "confident but uncomfortable prediction" that by 2020, if advances in genetics continue as he expects, they are "bound to substantially increase interest in embryonic and other screening programmes." About a month later, a new company, Counsyl, launched a first-of-its-kind direct-to-consumer testing service aimed at telling couples, based on screening each member of a couple for recessi

Biological Previews

Looking for a way to see if a drug might give you side effects--without having to deal with the whole pesky process of experiencing those effects? Science writer David Ewing Duncan highlights an experimental technology from Cell Dynamics International involving reverse engineering cells from the body, such as blood cells, into pluripotent stem cells, and then engineering them back into organ cells in order to test out how different stimuli and medications might impact one's cells.

Shopping for Your Genome

I spent the last couple days at the Personalized Medicine World Conference and one of the most intriguing companies I encountered was a small startup called HolGenTech, which aims to combine genetic data and mobile devices to give people just-in-time recommendations about what they should and shouldn't consume.

Biological Explanations of Everything

Miller McCune highlights a recent study suggesting that there may be some genetic basis for the intensity of a person's political beliefs.

Do We Have Mathematical Instincts?

At our Health Horizons conference earlier this week, we spent some time discussing the challenges of communicating future risks to every day people and noted that one of the key challenges in the coming decade will be to understand how to explain fuzzy genetic probabilities to people in ways that help improve their health.

Betting on Risky Genes

A provocative feature in this month's Atlantic on a new way to think about genetic variations: Not as switches that confer or protect against disease risks, but as something closer to behavioral investment strategies that might offer more risk and more reward through greater sensitivity to the environment, or instead might offer more conservative strategies.

Please Complete a Genome Scan with Your Mortgage Application

Certain genetic mutations can significantly contribute to the amount of credit card debt a person holds, according to a new study by Jan-Emmanuel DeNeve and James Fowler. Specifically, DeNeve and Fowler report a link between mutations on the MAOA gene--which have also been associated with "lack of conscientiousness, impulsivity...

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