Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In 1990, the Human Genome Project ("HGP") was formed to decipher and sequence the human genome, to develop new tools to obtain and analyze genetic data, and to make the information widely available.' Researchers completed the HGP in 2003 with the genetic technology and resources developed providing new opportunities for medical progress. In particular, discoveries about the genetic basis of illness and the development of genetic testing allowed for earlier diagnosis and detection of genetic predispositions to disease. These advances, however, also gave rise to the potential misuse of genetic information, as revealed by genetic testing, to discriminate against and stigmatize individuals. More specifically, for example, they created the opportunity for financially motivated employers to use genetic information to avoid employing workers likely to take sick leave, file for workers' compensation, or use health benefits. To fully protect the public from discrimination and allay any concerns about the potential for discrimination, in May 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act ("GINA") into law. This long-awaited statute paved the way for individuals to take full advantage of the promise of personalized medicine without fear of discrimination on the basis of genetic information acquired by employers.