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Whole Genome Sequencing: Innovation Dream or Privacy Nightmare
Conferences & Talks
10 June 2013
School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
Recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies have put ubiquitous availability of whole human genomes within reach. It is no longer hard to imagine the day when everyone will have the means to obtain and store one's own DNA sequence. Widespread and affordable availability of whole genomes immediately opens up important opportunities in a number of health-related fields. In particular, common genomic applications and tests performed in vitro today will soon be conducted computationally, using digitized genomes. New applications will be developed as genome-enabled medicine becomes increasingly preventive and personalized. However, the very same progress also amplifies worrisome privacy concerns, since a genome represents a treasure trove of highly personal and sensitive information.
In this talk, we will overview biomedical advances in genomics and discuss associated privacy, ethical, and security challenges. We begin to address privacy-respecting genomic tests by focusing on some important applications, such as, Personalized Medicine, Paternity Tests, Ancestry Testing, and Genetic Compatibility Tests. After carefully analyzing these applications and their requirements, we propose a set of efficient privacy-enhancing techniques based on private set operations. This allows us to implement, in silico, some operations that are currently performed via in vitro methods, in a secure fashion. Experimental results demonstrate that proposed techniques are both feasible and practical today. Finally, we explore a few alternatives to securely store human genomes and allow authorized parties to run tests in such a way that only the required minimum amount of information is disclosed, and present an Android API framework geared for privacy-preserving genomic testing.
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