Size matters: the ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding large-scale genetic biobank initiatives
During the past ten years the complex ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) typically surrounding large-scale genetic biobank research initiatives have been intensely debated in academic circles. In many ways genetic epidemiology has undergone a set of changes resembling what in physics has been called a transition into Big Science. This article outlines consequences of this transition and suggests that the change in scale implies challenges to the roles of scientists and public alike. An overview of key issues is presented, and it is argued that biobanks represent not just scientific endeavors with purely epistemic objectives, but also political projects with social implications. As such, they demand clever maneuvering among social interests to succeed.
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