Illustrative image for The Gift and Weight of Genomic Knowledge

Hastings Center News

The Gift and Weight of Genomic Knowledge

With the popularity of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, genomic knowledge is assuming a growing role in shaping human life. On the one hand, this knowledge is a gift, offering insights into the genetic drivers of disease and the geographical paths of our ancestors. On the other hand, it is a weight, presenting new obligations, new forms of social classification, and new forms of surveillance. Thus, we are faced with a fundamental question: how can we live well in the face of knowledge that can change the criteria, conditions, and lived experience of life? A Hastings Center conference examined these questions.

“The Gift and Weight of Genomic Knowledge: In Search of the Good Biocitizen,” took place at Brooklyn Law School on October 4 – 5. It was sponsored by The Hastings Center and Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Health, Science and Public Policy and cosponsored by the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School and Columbia Narrative Medicine. To learn more, click here.

The conference was livestreamed from the conference webpage, and an archive of the livestream will be available on YouTube after the conference concludes.

The conference was a component of the Humanities Research Initiative, a major research program at The Hastings Center to enlarge and deepen its core commitment to humanities-based scholarship in bioethics and to nurture future leaders in this area. The initiative is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Hastings Center organizers of the conference are Erik Parens, senior research scholar  and head of the Humanities Research Initiative, and Joel Michael Reynolds, the Rice Family Fellow in Bioethics and the Humanities.