Universal Genetic Databases

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Universal Genetic Databases

There is a new effort underway to collect and structure all of this data so that it is more easily accessed.

The proliferation of consumer DNA testing services represents significant untapped opportunity in myriad industries and fields, including insurance, pharmaceuticals and law enforcement. As a result, there is a new effort underway to collect and structure all of this data so that it is more easily accessed.

A team of researchers from Vanderbilt University say that developing a universal database with standardized genetic profiles for every person living in or visiting a given country would allow law enforcement to find people who’ve committed serious crimes. GEDmatch, the open-source genetic database that helps compare and match DNA data files from different testing companies, was used to help find the Golden State Killer in 2018. It subsequently sparked renewed interest in developing universal genetic databases for government use. Of course, there are lots of ethical concerns. Under what circumstances should third parties be able to pull and use genetic data housed in private databases? What jurisdiction should law enforcement have over our genetic data, even if we haven’t committed a crime? The governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UK and China have all been researching whether to create universal databases populated with the genetic information of their citizens.