Saturday, April 13, 2013

Next Monday, I Like

This has been a big week leading up to an even bigger Monday. That's the day the Supreme Court finally hears the AMP v. Myriad appeal, and I'll be listening. But this past week I had the opportunity to revisit the issue in a number of venues. One was as a guest lecture for an honors class taught by Robert Zwijnenberg at Leiden University. His class is called "Who Owns Life?" and I was invited to discuss my views on gene patents from my book, Who Owns You. There I gave this talk: "Nature, Genes, and the Commons" with a great reception from the students and faculty. The questions were challenging and the discussion wide-ranging.

Later that same day, I appeared on The Forum, a show on KQED, the National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco. The panel discussion entitled "Who Owns Your Genes" included: Lauren Sommer, science and environment reporter for KQED Public Radio, Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, Jeffrey Lefstin, professor at UC Hastings College of Law, and myself. Again, this discussion was civil, interesting, in depth, and revealed the fundamental disagreements and agreements in anticipation of the Supreme Court's oral argument next Monday.

Finally, my friend Joanna Rudnick's great film, "In The Family" is being re-released. This film is an important view on the scientific and social role of the BRCA1 and 2 tests that Myriad monopolizes, and features the only taped discussion of those patents from Mark Skolnick, the founder of Myriad. Here is an excerpt from the press release, I urge everyone to watch the documentary online:

"As Supreme Court debates gene patenting linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, POV and Kartemquin release In the Family free online

Emmy-nominated 2008 film by Joanna Rudnick features revelatory video interview with Myriad Genetics, defendant in the SCOTUS case.

Chicago – On April 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear a landmark case on the patentability of genes linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

To raise public awareness on the issues involved, the documentary In the Family – which helped spark the original case – will be streamed online for free to coincide with the hearing. In the film director/producer Joanna Rudnick tells her story of discovering she carries the BRCA gene mutation. She interviews other cancer “pre-vivors,” and in doing so is led to Myriad Genetics, sole patent holder of the BRCA genes and sole provider of genetic testing for mutations in the genes.

In the Family will be exclusively streamed online at, launching with the Supreme Court hearing of the ACLU’s challenge to the BRCA genes on April 15, 2013 for 30 days (through May 15, 2013), followed by a second streaming window of 30 days around when the verdict is announced.

Rudnick’s exposing video interview with Myriad’s founder Mark Skolnick – in which she questions why the cost of the test is going up despite advances in technology – remains the only on-camera comment Myriad has given on these issues since the case was launched."

On Monday, of course, we'll have some new material to review as the court's arguments become available online. 

stay tuned!

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