|Genome Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues
DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop
Robert J. Robbins
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington
As the Human Genome Project (HGP) moves toward its successful completion, more and more people are becoming interested in understanding this project and its results. Since the HGP has significant ethical, legal, and social implications for all citizens, the number of individuals who do, or should wish to become familiar with the project is very high. In addition to its importance in the training of professional geneticists, the HGP is of special relevance for undergraduate training in basic biology, and even for high-school and other K-12 education. In a world soon to experience a flood of information and technology from genomic research, a basic understanding of genetic principles may become part of the expected knowledge base of the educated citizen.
Understanding the results of HGP research, however, requires a familiarity with the notions of basic genetics, and this is often not available to most individuals. We have created an educational resource at which material related to the foundations of classical genetics is being republished in readily available, typeset-quality electronic form. We also publish additional material, such as pedagogical materials, items of general interest, biographical and autobiographical memoirs, and historical or analytical treatments. Together, this collection should be of great use to those wishing to appreciate and understand genetics and genome research.
Materials at our site are of interest to individual users, but they are especially valuable for teachers and other educators in the preparation of their course materials. Several textbook publishers are providing links to our site at their value-adding textbook support sites. Many junior college and secondary school sites are also now referencing our site.
The site is intended to be useful not only to students, teachers, scholars, but also to general readers. Indeed, we consider the general public to be our primary audience. Data currently available suggest that we are succeeding in reaching our target audience. The bulk of our users are accessing the site from clients that use a dial-up Internet service provider. Since scholars and scientists usually have full Internet access from their university facilities (that all have *.EDU domains), the data suggest that the bulk of our users are from the general public. We specifically have logged visits from more than 100 high-school sites and we know of several high-school web projects that have established links to the ESP site.
In the past year, we have emphasized software development to improve the efficiency with which we can publish works at our site and to improve the functionality of our site for users. By January 1999, we will move our site to a different physical server that will allow us much more control over the functionality that we can deliver. This will allow us to offer custom services to the user, including personalized searches and file storage, as well as custom annotated versions of classic texts.
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