Precision Medicine Vision

Precision medicine is medical diagnosis, prevention and treatment based on an individual’s variation in genes, environment, and lifestyle. Knowledge of an individual’s personal genome allows us to make informed decisions about the best medical care available, for that person. From fundamental discoveries to the clinic, Columbia... Read more


Precision medicine raises many legal questions including those surrounding the use of new technologies and their intellectual property, and also the legal consequences of the knowledge acquired or procedures performed.

Some questions surrounding the legal impact of precision medicine will include:

  • Are current protections against discrimination (e.g., GINA, state laws) sufficient to protect patients? Will new anti-discrimination laws be required?
  • Does the growing use of genetic testing create new duties for physicians and healthcare facilities (e.g., notification of family members at risk; reanalysis of genetic data in light of new findings) that increase risks for liability?
  • Given the complexity of genetic information and the potential range of findings, do current approaches to informed consent for research and treatment need to be modified?
  • As new discoveries are made about disease risk and treatment based on genetic information, who will “own” the resulting products?
  • How will the increasing availability of genomic data affect the adjudication of civil and criminal cases? How will the courts respond to the introduction of data about genetic predispositions for behavioral and physical syndromes?
  • Will the criminal justice system be able to access genetic databases created for medical or research purposes to identify and prosecute suspected perpetrators?
  • What effect will increasing knowledge of genetic underpinnings of behavior have on the attribution of responsibility for criminal and other negative behaviors and the imposition of punishment?


Jonathan Pritchard 

Professor in the Departments of Genetics and Biology at Stanford University and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute