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Submission + - Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Genetic Testing (

cappp writes: This week Berkeley will mail saliva sample kits to every incoming freshman and transfer student. Students can choose to use the kits to submit their DNA for genetic analysis, as part of an orientation program on the topic of personalized medicine. But U.C. Berkeley isn't the only university offering its students genetic testing. Stanford University's summer session started two weeks ago, including a class on personal genomics that gives medical and graduate students the chance to sequence their genotypes and study the results.

Berkeley's project is essentially a modified version of the summer homework many colleges assign to new students in an attempt to foster intellectual discussion and class cohesion. Berkeley sent approximately 5,500 incoming freshmen and transfer students DNA sampling kits. The hope is to spark discussion during orientation on how genetic testing works, the results of the students' tests and their decisions on whether or not to participate.

Stanford's project, in contrast, is only open to medical and graduate students in the form of an eight-week elective summer class called "Genetics 210: Genomics and Personalized Medicine," in which about 50 students have enrolled, with a dozen more auditing. Students in the class can choose to have their genotype analyzed by Navigenics or 23andMe—personal genomics companies that provide individualized risks for various health conditions and sensitivity to drugs (23andMe also provides additional information about ancestry). The results of their tests will be incorporated into the class curriculum, although students can also opt to study publicly available genetic data in lieu of analyzing their own. Professors will not know what decision the students make.

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Stanford, U.C. Berkeley and Genetic Testing

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