Genomic Identification and Privacy

August 23, 2009
In the last few years, genome association studies have led to breakthrough medical discoveries. However, due to privacy concerns that the identity of individuals could be determined through DNA data, health institutes in the US and abroad removed public access to the genetic data coming from these association studies. Such association studies have been shown to shed light on diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease, and sharing the raw data from these studies with other scientists can aid tremendously with further discoveries. Nature Genetics has just published a new study by Dr. Eran Halperin of the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) and Tel Aviv University, and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, that describes their "mathematical formula and software solution that ensures that malicious eyes will have very low chances to identify individuals in any study," says Dr. Halperin.