It’s been 55 years since the landmark paper on DNA’s double helix was published, and five years since scientists revealed the complete genetic code for humans. To mark the anniversary, Friday has been set aside as National DNA Day – and it’s a good time to reflect upon how genetics has transformed society. Since 2003, genetic analysis has opened a new medical frontier. Now a new social frontier awaits as well: Several ventures have set up social networks based on genetic profiles. But there’s also a potential dark side to the DNA revolution.
Socializing with DNA
The social trend is rooted in the search for family roots: For years, companies have been offering tests that analyze your DNA for genetic markers that are passed down from father to son, or from mother to children. But once your sample is analyzed, then what? The companies set up online forums that let the people who took the tests compare their results. That’s how I began determining lines of genetic relationships for my own family almost seven years ago – and how I was able to help match up Boyle relatives who didn’t know they were related until they took the test.