ASHG/ESHG Building Bridges: Potential Policy Implications of Genetic Research into Educational Attainment
Recorded On: 10/15/2019
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Recent genome-wide association studies (Lee et al., Nature Genetics, 2018) have shown that polygenic scores composed of common variants can explain ~13% of the variance in educational attainment, and this number is set to increase as studies grow. While there has been considerable discussion in policy circles and the media about the ethics of gene editing, the implications of genetic prediction for behavioral and cognitive traits have received less attention. There is an urgent need to consider whether and how the findings from these studies should be applied in public policy. For example, should polygenic scores for educational attainment be used as a component of school admissions processes, or to identify children likely to need particular educational help? What threshold of precision would be necessary for useful deployment? Should we allow antenatal embryo selection based on these scores in IVF clinics? Should insurers be allowed to use polygenic scores in determining policy pricing? What are the potential unintended consequences of such policies, and what does the public think about them? How does knowledge about the heritability of educational attainment affect political notions of equality? How can we stop this debate being hijacked by extremist groups? In this session, genetics and policy experts will present the latest research on these topics and hold a panel discussion.
Moderators: Kiran Musunuru, ASHG and Joris Veltman, ESHG