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Kaye comments on Science & Law Blog

September 15, 2008

A recent discovery by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix has led the National Institutes of Health to block easy access to large amounts of aggregate human DNA data, Professor David Kaye, of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, wrote on the Science & Law Blog on the Law Professor Blogs Network.

Kaye's entry, "Genetics Datasets Closed Due to Forensic DNA Discovery," reports that the NIH withdrew data from Genome Wide Association Studies from public view. The data remain available for use by researchers who apply for access and agree to protect confidentiality.

"The reason? Data keepers fear that police or other curious organizations or individuals might deduce whose DNA is reflected in the aggregated data, and hence, who participated in a research study," Kaye wrote.

The action was prompted by news from TGen that a new way of checking whether an individual's DNA is a part of a complex mixture of DNA, possibly from hundreds of people, and that this might compromise research databases.

"It seems doubtful that anonymity of the research databases has been breached, or will be in the immediate future, by this convoluted procedure," wrote Kaye, an editor of the Science & Law Blog, ASU Professor of Life Sciences, and Faculty Fellow at the College of Law's Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology. "Of course, the longer-term implications remain to be seen."

To read the full posting, go to

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law