Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Who Owns Your DNA?

By Alisha Green

February 26, 2019 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo: UCSC Computer Science and Engineering professor Abhradeep Guha Thakurt is part of a research team recently awarded $600K to study genetic privacy. Credit: Jules Holdsworth)

UCSC already has a claim to fame in the history of genomic data; it was a team from the university that published the first draft of the human genome online in 2000. Now, with a new $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, another UCSC-led team could be on its way to making genomic history—this time, defining what constitutes privacy when the information at stake is what makes you who you are.

Abhradeep Guha Thakurta, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at UCSC, is on a team exploring how to best give researchers access to increasing amounts of genomic data. The stakes are high, promising unprecedented insight into what causes—and could possibly cure—a range of diseases and chronic conditions.

How to share that valuable information without revealing deeply personal medical details is the balance that Guha Thakurta will try to strike, along with UCSC Assistant Professor of Bimolecular Engineering Russ Corbett-Detig, UCSC Professor of Computer Science Dimitris Achlioptas, and Temple University Assistant Professor of Statistical Science Vishesh Karwa.

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