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Bioethics

DNA autoradiogram in a petri dish (Photo Rafe Swan/Alamy)
Spring 2019

Genomics fills a gap for adoptees

If you have gene variants such as BRCA or Lynch Syndrome, both of which may lead to difficult-to-treat cancers, “you’ve noticed it,” says Thomas May, an endowed professor of bioethics in Washington State University’s College of Medicine. “Noticed” is May’s measured way of saying that “multiple people in your family have died” of breast or colon cancer.

“Unless you don’t have access to family health history,” May adds.

One of the primary diagnostic tools available to doctors is family medical history. Breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions are often genetic. Knowing that a parent had a disease is important information … » More …

Genetically modified pig. Photo Luke Hollister
Winter 2018

Pork futures

Pig 135 snuffles and grunts inside his pen. Jon Oatley reaches through the bars to pet the more than 500-pound genetically modified animal.

“People have this image in their head of a pig with deformities, but they’re just normal pigs,” says molecular biologist Oatley ’01 MS, ’04 PhD as he rubs the pig’s ears.

The enormous, three-year-old pig is one of a handful bred by Oatley, director of WSU’s Center for Reproductive Biology, and his team to be surrogate fathers. Through genetic tinkering, Pig 135 is able to produce sperm that contains the genetic material of another pig rather than his own. This … » More …