Tracked Down by Our Genes
A Film by Philippe Borrel & Gilbert Charles
In 2003 the Human Genome Project, culminating a 13-year effort, announced that they had succeeded in identifying the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA. Having decoded the "book of life," scientists would now be able to understand better how the human organism works, paving the way for improved treatment of diseases and the development of new medicines and healthcare techniques.
Tracked Down by Our Genes shows how this scientific breakthrough, which has provided a map through the labyrinth of heredity, allowing us to trace our ancestors' footprints, has ushered in a new age of genetic awareness, with hundreds of companies offering tests to determine ancestry, paternity, and hereditary diseases.
In addition to such benefits, however, there is increasing concern about the potential abuse of this scientific knowledge, such as the national databases of genetic information on millions of individuals being used in forensic investigations by police departments worldwide. In exploring this new frontier between social science and biology, Tracked Down by Our Genes features interviews with leading geneticists, microbiologists, anthropologists, sociologists, police, civil-liberties lawyers, and genetic rights activists.
Those interviewed in the film include Dr. Mark Shriver of Penn State University, Dr. Jonathan Beckwith of the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Troy Duster of New York University, Matt Thomas of DNAPrint Genomics, Gina Paige of African Ancestry, Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University, Jeremy Rifkin of the Foundation on Economic Trends, ACLU attorney Barry Steinhardt and Sharon Terry of the Genetic Alliance.
Through interviews with those involved in the development and use of new genetic technologies, Tracked Down by Our Genes illuminates the ethical and legal issues generated by the genomic revolution as well as its possible dangers, including racial profiling, government control and genetic discrimination.
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“Pertinent to courses in physical anthropology, criminal justice, and ethics. Genetic testing is a field that is evolving rapidly and the issues warrant attention. The film is a good resource for initiating discussion in such matters so I am happy to give Tracked Down by Our Genes an enthusiastic recommendation.” William Yaworsky, Anthropology Review Database
Measuring Up: Should prenatal genetic testing determine who is to be born? Families who have had children with serious genetic conditions discuss their own choices, with commentary by several bioethicists and genetic scientists.
Deadly Inheritance: Examines the social and emotional issues involved in genetic testing, as it follows one family during their months-long wait for the results of the mother's test for Huntington's disease.
Banking Our Genes: Invites viewers to think about the ethical, public policy, and privacy issues involved in the collection and banking of DNA data about individuals.
In The Family: At the age of 27, filmmaker Joanna Rudnick tested positive for the BRCA gene, a familial mutation that drastically increases the odds of getting breast and ovarian cancer. This film documents her journey through the unpredictable world of predictive genetic testing and the choices she must make.
At My Mother's Breast: The filmmaker's mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all had breast cancer; she grew up knowing that she might be next. An extraordinary portrait of a family of brave, strong women finding unity in facing a terrifying and tragic genetic legacy.