Personal Genomics and Public Health

Question: Will personal genomics play a bigger role in public health?

 

Neil Schluger: And so that’s a great question because I think personal genomics to me exists in a sort of tension with public health because public health by definition is a discipline that focuses on populations and not individuals. Medicine in a sense is what focuses on individuals. Someone gets sick, you take care of them, but from a public health perspective we ask the question what can be done medically, legally, economically, culturally, socially to improve the health of a population? And that might be building a sewer system instead of having an open water supply or it could be things like making cigarettes illegal or hard to get, and so those things I think are in some sort of tension with ideas like personal genomics. I’m a big believer in public health. I think you can make a dollar go a long way. We have the luxury in the United States because we’re a wealthy country of being able to do all this personalized medicine but I doubt that sort of personal genomics kind of approaches will have much impact on a disease like TB, at least not for many, many years

Question: What about diseases with genetic components, like malaria?

Neil Schluger: There certainly is a genetic predisposition to malaria but again I think it’s going to be difficult there. The scale of the infection is just enormous. Tens of millions of people get infected with malaria every year. It’d be hard for me to believe any time in the foreseeable future that genetic medicine will have much to do with control of malaria. If you had--  People point this out. If you have a dollar to spend right now on malaria, you’re better off spending it buying a bed net to be honest.

Recorded on: 04/25/2008

 

 

Public health, Schluger says, deals with populations, not individuals.

3 ways to find a meaningful job, or find purpose in the job you already have

Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.

Videos
  • Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
  • There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
  • "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Keep reading Show less

Physicist advances a radical theory of gravity

Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.

Photo by Willeke Duijvekam
Surprising Science
  • The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
  • The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
  • While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
Keep reading Show less

UPS has been discreetly using self-driving trucks to deliver cargo

TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.


PAUL RATJE / Contributor
Technology & Innovation
  • This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
  • UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
  • TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.
Keep reading Show less