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Genetics and Molecular Medicine

Genetics is the study of how biological traits and characteristics are transmitted through generations and families. Molecular medicine examines how illness and disease occurs or can be prevented at the cellular or molecular level. Both fields are experiencing exciting new developments in research and in practical applications, as well as confronting important legal, ethical and policy issues about their use.

The AMA is committed to providing extensive and up-to-date news and information about these new fields of medicine and law, whether discussing genetic testing and genetic discrimination, investigating gene patenting, or explaining the Human Genome Project.

Below are important announcements and personalized medicine topics.

Supreme Court invalidates gene patents
In June, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that human genes are products of nature and therefore are not patent-eligible. The AMA strongly advocated for an end to gene patents, and welcomed the Supreme Court decision.  Read the AMA press release and the full Supreme Court decision.

Policy perspective on personalized medicine
The AMA has developed a white paper to serve as a primer on key policy issues in personalized medicine.  The paper covers issues such as genetic discrimination, genetic test regulation and oversight, and strengthening the genetics professional workforce.

Improve your ability to identify patients at high risk for colorectal cancer
The AMA has collaborated with the National Coalition for Health Care Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG) to develop a Web-based educational program designed to improve the primary care physician's (and other health care providers') skills at assessing risk, genetic testing, risk communication and counseling, and surveillance for hereditary colorectal cancer. The course is available in both enduring and performance improvement formats, and CME credit is available to those who complete the course. For more information, please visit the NCHPEG Web page.

Guiding Principles on Personalized Medicine
The AMA, in collaboration wth several medical specialty societies, has developed legislative principles on personalized medicine that guide its advocacy efforts. These principles are rooted in the belief that physicians are integral to the scientific inquiry and innovation processes that drive personalized medicine, and that they must have the discretion to utilize the genetic tools that are most appropriate for patient care.  Since regulation of genetic tests is integral to physician practice and patient care, the principle addressing oversight of laboratory-developed tests has been further elaborated upon.

Pharmacogenomics: a brochure is available
A brochure summarizing pharmacogenomics using a case-based format is has been developed. It is available only in electronic format.

Education and research
Listing of several educational programs and initiatives in the fields of genetics and molecular medicine.

Family history
Describes the importance of a family medical history and provides resources on how to collect information and generate a simple pedigree.

Genetics of common disorders
Many common disorders have a genetic basis. Here, current knowledge of the genetics of selected disorders is summarized.

Current topics in genetics and medicine
Background information on the areas of applied genetics that have the potential to affect medicine most profoundly.

Genetics and policy issues
There is a vast body of evolving policy to guide physicians and researchers through the maze of ethical, legal and social issues surrounding genetics and molecular medicine. Highlights of some of the most pressing policy topics are described here. Topics include the stem cell research, genetic testing, genetic discrimination, gene patenting, and use of human participants in scientific research.