Response

Assignment Instructions:
Your written assignment should be no more than 4-pages, double spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins.

Part 1(estimated 1.5 pages)

Your relative is eager to participate in 23andMe Research. They already submitted their saliva to find out more about their (and your!) ancestry, but they haven’t yet made a decision about whether to participate in 23andMe Research. They know you’ve been learning about research ethics and they’ve asked for your assistance in making a decision. You should rely on the information contained in the supplemental document.

Please provide them with your analysis of 23andMe’s policies and processes. Your response should include:

– An analysis of how 23andMe Research addresses or fails to address the principles laid out in the Belmont Report. You should make sure to address all three concepts in the Belmont Report in your response (respect for persons, beneficence, and justice).
– A discussion of at least 2 technical and/or organizational safeguards 23andMe Research mentions as tools to enact the principles in the Belmont Report. You should refer to the safeguards discussed by Seltzer and Anderson in “The Dark Side of Numbers.”

Part 2 (estimated 2.5 pages)

23andMe Research heard about the terrific work you did for your relative and they’ve now asked you to evaluate the ethics of a proposed research project. In addition to considering the Belmont Report ethics principles, 23andMe Research would like you to consider the strength of the research design, the larger historical and political context, and how research results may affect communities.

Your response should include:

– An analysis of how the study addresses or fails to address the principles laid out in the Belmont Report. You should make sure to address all three concepts in the Belmont Report in your response (respect for persons, beneficence, and justice).
– An analysis (referencing at least two additional readings from sources given) of the potential issues with the research design and/or implications of the study. Pick 2-3 considerations to discuss thoroughly (quality over quantity!).

Proposed study

A group of 23andMe researchers would like to use 23andMe data to explore the genetic basis of same-sex sexual behavior. Researchers plan on comparing variations in the genome of people who self-report same-sex sexual behavior with those who have not reported same-sex sexual behavior to identify sections of the genome that may contribute to same-sex sexual behavior.

In addition, they want to explore the genetic correlation of same-sex sexual behavior with mental health traits, including depression, anxiety, and loneliness, because previous research has documented that they are substantially inheritable, and other research finds that populations including individuals engaging in same-sex sexual behavior have an elevated risk of adverse mental health outcomes.

Additional details about study methodology:
– Participants will be asked to self-report if they participate in same-sex sexual behavior.
– Statistical tests will be conducted to see if there is a variation of particular genes between those who report engaging in same-sex sexual behavior and those who do not.
– Because they are interested in biologically defined sex, not gender, they plan to exclude individuals whose biological sex at birth and self-reported current gender identity do not match from the study.

Some historical and social context
Acceptance of same-sex sexual behavior varies widely across countries, and within and across religious faiths, ethnic groups, and political groups, among others, and across all of these over time. Some countries have decriminalized same-sex sexual behavior, and some have legalized same-sex marriage. In others, same-sex sexual behavior may result in jail and even death. While the Western medical profession no longer views same-sex sexual behavior as a mental disorder or disease, it has in the past been considered as such. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ population globally faces consistent discrimination.

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