human genome

Gene Patent Expert Discusses "Duty to Universe," Launches Genome Liberty


Christopher Mason, PhD, Assistant Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College

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Listen (6:00) 59,000 genes in the human genome

Listen (9:00) Huh? Genes can be patented?

Listen (2:36) Did the Supreme Court get the right balance in Myriad case?

Listen (6:26) Genome Liberty - opening up the flood gates for genetic testing

Today we continue our exploration of the recent Myriad gene patent case and what it means for research and the life science industry.

Chris Mason, a professor of genomics at Weill Cornell Medical College, has always greeted the idea of gene patents with disbelief. Working in his lab to "understand the human genome down to every base and every base modification," Chris has been involved with the Myriad/ACLU case from the beginning, serving at times as an expert witness.

In today's interview, Chris discusses his involvement in the case which included some basic scientific training of the lawyers at the ACLU. He also shares his thoughts on the outcome of the big decision. Did SCOTUS strike the right balance? And what practical implications will the decision have?

One of the outcomes is a new company, co-founded by Chris, called Genome Liberty. The company launched last week with the goal of "opening up the flood gates for genetic testing."

Chris is passionate not just about "genomic liberty", but about basic genomic science as well, citing a "duty to the universe" to get it right.

"It's my favorite thing to do," he says in the interview, "to make sure that any new text that is published is obsolete within a year."

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