jamesdwatson.jpgWant to know what diseases are in store for you through your genes? What diseases are you pre-disposed to contract? Nobel Prize winner James Watson, who pioneered the discovery of the DNA molecular structure, became the first individual to receive his own personal genome map. This is a giant step in medical care where one can know for certain one’s inherited diseases before the illnesses actually strike.

The project cost US$1 million and took two months to complete. The results show that Watson has some cancer-inducing variances which prove accurate for the 79-year-old scientist. He has had skin cancer while his sister had breast cancer. The genome map heralds an exciting and brave new era in health care. It is believed that more people will be able to benefit from this technology and get their own personal genetic map when costs are reduced to an affordable US$1,000 in the future.

In the realm of medical science, forewarned is forearmed. Naturally, when one knows that one has high risks of contracting certain life-threatening diseases early in life, it may cause anxiety and fear. But it may also change one’s lifestyle to manage or prevent the diseases better. Knowledge is power. But for whom? Insurance companies, prospective employers, and marriage partners? Discrimination is a distinct possibility if the genome map becomes easily available for every human being. Can we play God and get away with knowing the future? The technology is at our doorstep and we have no choice but to use it as wisely as possible.