Ethical and Social Challenges of Genomic and Precision Medicine

This course is offered through Coursera — you can add it to your Accredible profile to organize your learning, find others learning the same thing and to showcase evidence of your learning on your CV with Accredible's export features.

Course Date: 15 September 2014 to 03 November 2014 (7 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

Knowledge linking genomics to health and disease is rapidly expanding. Translation of this knowledge into clinical and public health practice offers promising opportunities but also raises a host of ethical, legal, social, and policy questions. Using case examples, this inter-disciplinary course will explore the challenges of genomic and precision medicine.

Estimated Workload: 3-5 hours/week

Course Instructors

Wylie Burke

Wylie Burke MD PhD is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, Adjunct Professor of Medicine, and Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Her work focuses on the ethical and policy implications of genetic information in research and health care. She directs the University of Washington Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality, an NHGRI Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research; and co-directs the Northwest-Alaska Pharmacogenomics Research Network, a research partnership involving universities and tribal communities in Alaska, Montana and Washington. Dr. Burke received a PhD in Genetics and an MD from the University of Washington.  She trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington, where she was also a Medical Genetics Fellow. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine and past President of the American Society of Human Genetics, and was the 2013-2014 Presidential Chair at the University of California San Francisco. 

Barbara Koenig

Dr. Barbara A. Koenig is a Professor of Medical Anthropology & Bioethics and Co-Director of the Center of Excellence in Translational Genomics & Ethics at the University of California, San Francisco. For more information on the Center of Excellence, visit

Julie Harris-Wai

Julie N Harris-Wai, Ph.D., M.P.H. is a social and behavioral scientist at Kaiser Permanente’s (KP) Division of Research and an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Harris-Wai has a diverse background in community health promotion, bioethics, and social and behavioral sciences. She received her Ph.D. in public health genomics at the University of Washington, followed by a fellowship in population health sciences with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health and Society Scholars Program at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. Dr. Harris-Wai’s research focuses on examining the social and ethical factors influencing how (and why) genomic technologies are translated from the research setting into clinical care, and the impact these technologies have on health disparities and underserved communities. The ultimate goal of Dr. Harris-Wai’s work is to identify policies and programs that improve the appropriate use of genomic technologies for all communities. In addition to being an accomplished researcher, Dr. Harris-Wai is also a dedicated educator and has taught courses in research ethics, community-based-participatory research, qualitative research methods, and Public Health Genomics. She combines her interests in education and research in her role as the associate director of the UCSF/KP Center of Excellence in research on Translational Genomics and Ethics. In this position, she collaborates with a multi-disciplinary team of investigators at UCSF and Kaiser Permanente to develop a training program focused on the bioethical, legal, and ethical implications of translational genomics ( 

Course Description

This six week, inter-disciplinary course provides an introduction to ethical, legal, social, and policy issues that arise in the translation of genomic knowledge into medical and public health practice. It considers challenges in health related and reproductive testing/screening focusing on six specific areas: 

-          Pre-conception genetic diagnosis, and prenatal testing/screening

-          Newborn screening

-          Use of genomic sequencing technologies to diagnose and predict disease

-          Targeting genomic testing/screening by race/ethnicity.

-          Direct-to-consumer genomic testing/screening

-          Use of “big data” for genomic research and genomic translation

The course uses case studies to illustrate key themes in genomic translation. Students will have an opportunity to interrogate and critique a promising science through lectures and readings from a range of disciplinary perspectives (e.g. history, sociology, genetics, medicine, bioethics) and online discussion.


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class? 

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will have the opportunity to receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • Is this class eligible for Signature Track? 

Yes. Prior to the beginning of the class, and during the first two weeks, students may sign up for Signature Track to earn a Verified Certificate. Details on Signature Track are available from Coursera in their Signature Track Guidebook.

  • Will Continuing Education credit for practicing physicians be available for this class? 

After the class begins, please check the course site for detailed information about earning Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits for successfully completing this course.


Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Reproductive Genetics
Week 3: Screening
Week 4: Genetic Technology in the Prediction and Diagnosis of Disease
Week 5: Race and Genetics
Week 6: Direct-to-Consumer Testing
Week 7: Where Do We Go From Here?


This course includes weekly lectures that will range from one to to hours in length.  To coincide with the lectures each week, there will also be two to three hours of readings and assignments.

Course Workload

3-5 hours/week

Review course:

Please sign in to review this course.

Similar Courses

{{ }} {{ }}


{{course.start_date | date:'MMM d'}} — {{ course.end_date | date:'MMM d'}}   ({{ course.time_until_course_starts }} ,   length: {{ course.length_in_weeks }} weeks) Self-paced — no deadlines    
${{ course.price }} p/mfree


Course Activity & Community

Be the first Accredible user to join this course!

uploaded {{ feed_item.model.caption || feed_item.model.url || feed_item.model.file_file_name }} for the course {{ }} — {{ feed_item.time_ago }}

{{ }} {{ comment.text | truncate: (comment.length || comment_display_length) }}   read more hide

{{ comment.time_ago }}

started the course {{ }} — {{ feed_item.time_ago }}
followed {{ }} — {{ feed_item.time_ago }}
followed thier friend {{ }} — {{ feed_item.time_ago }}
{{ feed_item.model.text }} (on the course {{ }}) — {{ feed_item.time_ago }}

{{ }} {{ comment.text | truncate: (comment.length || comment_display_length) }}   read more hide

{{ comment.time_ago }}