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Visions of the public and private in public health genomics: the case of a nascent Australian biobank

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Bio-banks have been heralded as a new frontier of bio-molecular research potentially transforming public health by providing improved techniques for predicting illnesses, as well as potentially allowing more targeted health interventions. The teams of health professionals and others that build these technical and informational resources routinely consider ethical, legal and social issues and thereby co-produce the boundaries of a number of cultural and social categories such as the public and private. Drawing upon a study of stakeholders in one genetic biobank, this paper focuses on visions for its future. Participants envisage the creation of bio-value that had both commercial benefit as well as global scientific and public health value. The bio-bank was seen as a public/private hybrid which will have simultaneous local and global impact. Whilst the potential for undue private influence was recognised, stakeholders were confident that an appropriate public/private balance could be managed.
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Keywords: biobank; genomics; public and private; stakeholder

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Hull/York Medical School, University of York, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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