Stanford Center for
Biomedical Ethics

Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics

The Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics seminar series is co-sponsored by CIRGE and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics. The seminar focuses on discussing a different classic article, topic, or case related to genetics and ethics, and its relevance to a more recent article or case. Anyone in the Stanford community is welcome to attend.

Classic Readings in Genetics & Ethics seminar topics are below, and the full seminar syllabus from past seminars can be found here.

Session 1 - Safer v Pack
                  Pate v Threlkel
                  Ande v Rock

Session 2 - Greenberg v Miami Children's Hospital

Session 3 - Beleno v Texas Dept. of State Health Services

Session 4 - Washington University v Catalona

Session 5 - EEOC v Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad

Session 6 - Diamond v Chakrabarti, ACLU v Myriad

Session 7 - Havasupai v Arizona Board of Regents

Session 8 - Genetic Determinism

Lewontin, RC. Biology as Ideology: the Doctrine of DNA. Anansi Press Limited, 1991. Reprinted by arrangement with Stoddart Publishing Company Limited. 

Session 9 - Genetic Exceptionalism

Murray, Thomas H. Genetic Exceptionalism and “Future Diaries”: Is Genetic Information Different from Other Medical Information? in Genetic Secrets: Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality in the Genetic Era, ed. M. Rothstein (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).

Session 10 - Privacy of Genetic Research

Botkin, JR. Protecting the Privacy of Family Members in Survey and Pedigree Research. 2001 JAMA 285(2):207-211.

Session 11 - Bermuda Principles

Summary of the Report of the Second International Strategy Meeting on Human Genome Sequencing. Bermuda 27th February – 2nd March 1997. Sponsored by the Wellcome Trust.

Reaffirmation and Extension of NHGRI Rapid Data Release Policies: Large-scale Sequencing and Other Community Resource Projects. February 2003, available at

Session 12 - Reproductive Rights

Griswold v Connecticut

Planned Parenthood v Casey

Roe v Wade

Skinner v Oklahoma ex rel Williamson

Robertson, John A. Genetic Selection of Offspring Characteristics. 1996Boston University Law Review 76:421-482.

Session 13 - Model Ethical Protocol

Human Genome Diversity Project. Model Ethical Protocol for Collecting DNA Samples North American Regional Committee Human Genome Diversity Project. 1997 Houston Law Review 33(5):1431-1473.

Session 14 - Biopiracy

Magnus D. Intellectual Property and Agricultural Biotechnology: Bioprospecting or Biopiracy? in Who Owns Life? eds. D. Magnus, A. Caplan, & G. McGee (New York: Prometheus Books, 2002).

Session 15 - Incidental Findings

Wolf SM et al. Managing Incidental Findings in Human Subjects Research: Analysis and Recommendations. 2008 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Summer: 219-248.

Session 16 - GINA

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Available at

Session 17 - Asilomar

Berg P et al. Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 72(6):1981-1984, June 1975.

Singer M. What Did the Asilomar Exercise Accomplish, What Did It Leave Undone? 2001 Perspectives in biology and medicine. 44(2): Spring 186-191.

Session 18 - Human Gene Therapy

Walters L. Human Gene Therapy: Ethics and Public Policy. 1991 Human Gene Therapy 2:115-122.

Session 19 - Informed Consent & Biobanks

Beskow LM et al. Informed Consent for Population-Based Research Involving Genetics. 2001 JAMA 286(18):2315-2321.

Session 20 - Genetic Testing of Children

Ross LF. Should Children and Adolescents Undergo Genetic Testing? 2004 Pediatric Annals 33(11):762-769.

Wilfond B & Ross LF. From Genetics to Genomics: Ethics, Policy, and Parental Decision-Making. 2009 Journal of Pediatric Psychology 34(6):639-647.

Session 21 - UC Berkeley & Stanford Students

Jabr C. Exposing the Student Body: Stanford Joins U.C. Berkeley in Controversial Genetic Testing of Students. Scientific American July 6, 2010. Available at

Ormond KE et al. Medical and Graduate Students’ Attitudes Toward Personal Genomics. 2011 Genet Med 13(5):400-408.

Salari K, Pizzo PA, Prober CG. To Genotype or Not to Genotype? Addressing the Debate Through the Development of a Genomics and Personalized Medicine Curriculum. 2011 Academic Medicine 86:925-927.

Session 22 - Race & Genetics

Lundy B. Race, Ethnicity, and Health Can Genetics Explain Disparities. 2002 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 45(2):159-174.

Ossorio P & Duster T. Controversies in Biomedical, Behavioral, and Forensic Sciences. 2005 American Psychologist 60(1):115-128.

Soo-Jin Lee S et al. The Ethics of Characterizing Difference: Guiding Principles on Using Racial Categories in Human Genetics (Open letter). 2008 Genome Biology 9:404.

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