Shades of gray in the human genome

Nobel laureate Baruch S. Blumberg, M.D., Ph.D., discussed environmental and genetic factors of the hepatitis B virus and related liver diseases during a talk on May 24. “It is very difficult, if not impossible, to assign a value to a gene in terms of good or bad,” Blumberg said. “Those terms are polarized and very often they can only be used in the context of other factors that are involved.”

His talk, “DNA Polymorphisms and Clinical Phenotypes: A New Era for Genome Epidemiology,” was the second annual Genaissance Pharmacogenetics Lecture. Blumberg shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine with D. Carleton Gajdusek, M.D., for their discoveries concerning new mechanisms for the origin and dissemination of infectious diseases. Blumberg was honored for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus.