Codes of Ethics for Genetics Professionals


The field of genetic research, technology, and application is rapidly advancing. While such advancement provides great promise to evaluate, diagnose and treat medical conditions, there are many ethical and regulatory questions and challenges that must be addressed. In this article, we attempt to highlight both government regulation and professional codes of ethics as they relate to biomedical genetic technology. This article starts by articulating the first genetic code of ethics published in Canada in 1986, as well as other North American organisations, followed by European Union organisations, efforts around the globe and, finally, published guidelines or ethical codes that serve genetic professionals on an international scale. We also highlight that as genetic technology constantly changes, professionals and their ethical guidelines must adapt as well.

Key Concepts

  • Molecular biologists, biochemists, informatics professionals, genomicists and clinical researchers as well as clinicians and genetic counsellors are using genetic technology.
  • Government regulation alone is not enough to ensure that this technology is being used appropriately.
  • Many independent and professional organisations are also contributing to this arena.
  • This review for genetic professionals attempts to provide an overview of both comprehensive formal codes and decisions by various bodies that guide ethical medical genetics practices and supplement federal regulations.
  • The spread of genetic technologies around the world is adding to the challenge of adequately addressing the ethical issues raised in various nations and cultures.

Keywords: genetic technology; genetic professional; genetic counsellor; code of ethics; direct‐to‐consumer; incidental findings


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How to Cite close
Shuster, Julia, and FitzGerald, Kevin(Jan 2015) Codes of Ethics for Genetics Professionals. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005589.pub3]