Question 2: Second Place

 

Excerpt from Julia Kroll's winning essay

 

... Once the customer receives his newly revealed genomic information, he is on his own, abandoned as he attempts to decipher the results. Here is where DTC genetic tests fail—without the usual “detailed counseling…to ensure that [individuals] make informed decisions about…tests with complex personal implications” (Burke 2002), recipients are left struggling to interpret the intricate results of the SNP analysis. Unfortunately, many people fail at this difficult endeavor. One study examined individuals who were labeled through genetic testing as having a high risk for colon cancer. In a follow-up evaluation one year later, researchers found that very few participants were aware of their elevated cancer risk, indicating that they never understood the results of their genetic testing (Kuehn 2008). Therefore, DTC genetic testing seems useless and even foolish when results are so poorly comprehended. Medical intern Stephen Murphy uses genetic tests to support patients’ treatments and select the best medications for them. He often has patients who, lacking a genetic counselor, come to him with their DTC test results and ask him to explain them. Murphy has dubbed this detailed test “the thousand-dollar genome with the million-dollar interpretation” (Rubin 2010)...