The brave new world of prevention? On the prerequisites and scope of public health genetics

Ilkilic I. , Wolf M., Paul N. W.

GESUNDHEITSWESEN, vol.69, no.2, pp.53-62, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 69 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1055/s-2007-971057
  • Title of Journal : GESUNDHEITSWESEN
  • Page Numbers: pp.53-62


Recent developments in molecular genetics and genomics have not only provided new insights into the biological foundation of life but have also brought about significant changes in the ways health and disease are understood. Nowadays, understanding how the human genome interacts with health-related behaviour and diverse environments is recognised to be the key for biomedical innovation. Even though advances in genetics and genomics have unveiled a whole new complexity of the genetic underpinnings of health and disease and clearly show the need for further investigation, studies of health-related genetic traits already give rise to novel approaches to prevention. As a relatively new field Public Health Genetics is striving for the integration of genetic knowledge into strategies of prevention and for the translation of genomics into novel tools for public health. Translational research in this field is in its very early stages. The rise of public health genetics together with the relative predictive power of genetic information urges us to address the fundamental social, economical and ethical issues of public health genetics. This study analyses the scientific venture points and the larger framework of the implementation of strategies of public health genetics. The applicability of predictive and preventive measures of public health genetics are scrutinised with regard to their effect on both public and individual health. A major focus is on the economical, social and ethical challenges arising from any implementation of public health genetics. The guiding principle of our analysis is the (improvement of) social achievability of health as a measure for successful innovation of health care and prevention.