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Promising GenomicsIceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation$
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Michael Fortun and Roberto Reis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247505

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247505.001.0001

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(p.223) Ch 18 SameXDifference
Promising Genomics

Mike Fortun

University of California Press

Throughout the disagreements, differences and debates over the Health Sector Database and deCODE Genetics, there were at least two words that appeared everywhere: Iceland was “isolated” and its population was genetically “homogeneous.” The media ate it up. Einar Árnason, the population geneticist whose service to Iceland's National Bioethics Commission ended when it was dissolved, and who became a founder of and leading figure in Mannvernd, enters the story again. Among his dogged pursuits, none was as central to his scientific identity as the question of genetic variation—sameness and difference—in populations of organisms, from scallops to salmon to humans. Years before the scientific studies on the Icelandic population, and even before deCODE was incorporated, Kevin Kinsella of Sequana Therapeutics assumed he knew all he needed to know about the sameness of the Icelanders. Homogeneity, heterogeneity: same difference, different sales pitch.

Keywords:   Health Sector Database, deCODE Genetics, Iceland, Icelanders, Einar Árnason, genetic variation, sameness, difference, homogeneity, heterogeneity

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