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To: Multiple recipients of list HUM-MOLGEN <HUM-MOLGEN@NIC.SURFNET.NL>
Subject: ETHI: genetic counselors
From: Hans Goerl <GENETHICS@delphi.com>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 1995 23:45:35 -0400

A recent Associated Press article on the dangers associated with predictive
genetic testing contained the following interesting quote from Dr. Francis
Collins, head of the Human Genome Project:

(There will be an urgent need for genetic counselors, professionals who can
interpret test results and provide guidance. Collins imagined what might
happen in the absence of such counseling:    "A patient comes in and says `I
lost my keys last week, and I can't remember this person's name. Am I
getting Alzheimer's?'    "And the physician says, `Let's do this test.' And
he says, `Yeah, you've got it. We better test your kids.'    "And some of
them have it ...    "And one of them goes out and blows his brains out."

   Add up the number of Americans at risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and
Alzheimer's disease, and the numbers reach the tens of millions. But there
are now only 1,200 genetic counselors in the United States, and Collins said
the few training programs are short of funds and unable to expand.    That
inevitably leaves doctors and nurses to fill the gap, even though many of
them may have little genetic training.)

Since HUM-MOLGEN has a broad international subscriber list and since
predictive genetic technology is being marketed worldwide, it would be
interesting to know who, if anybody, is performing the role of the genetic
counselor in other countries. Are there formal training programs elsewhere?
Are there any applicable professional standards?

Hans Goerl
ETHI Editor

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