OWH Science Day - Gender and the Genome: A complicated and Still Unfolding Tale
Marianne J. Legato, M.D., F.A.C.P.: Dr. Legato discussed the impact of sex differences in genomics under the topic "Gender-Specific Medicine and the Genome: A Complex and Evolving Tale". The question of how sex affects human biology is essential to explore: we have always known that in many instances, men and women have a different experience of the same illnesses. But thoughtful investigators are now asking why in the era of human genomic exploration we should have any interest in gender-specific medicine. Many predict that an analysis of the personal genome of any individual will predict his vulnerabilities to specific diseases and his unique response to preventive and treatment therapies. In fact, such a concept is reductionism at its worst; the human phenotype is profoundly impacted not only by genes, but by hormones, developmental age and environmental experience. Thus, sex-specific biology is lodged within the larger concept of gender-specific medicine. An ever more accurate understanding of gender-specific medicine is evolving and will make the preservation of health and the prevention and treatment of disease more effective than we could ever have anticipated. Gender-specific genomic investigation will be an extremely important tool for achieving that goal.