Bioinformatics is the use of biology, mathematics, and computer science to answer biological questions. Through the use of biological databases, researchers are able to manage genetic information (Hodgman, French, & Westhead, 2010). A part that bioinformatics has is the lack of ethics being implemented in their studies. Bioethics, defined as the potential influence of life sciences in our society, using ethics, philosophy and societal observations (Bioethics, n.d). Relevant ethical questions, as well as the approach to education and teaching are the bio ethical concerns with bioinformatics.
Ethics in the curriculum of bioinformatics programs is minimal. More emphasis could be given on legal and social issues in bioinformatics researching and exploring upcoming technologies. Many programs do not believe topics such as "reproductive cloning, genetically modified foods, gene therapy and clinical trials, human stem cell experimentation, experiments on aborted embryos or fetal tissues, patenting molecules, transgenic technologies, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and assisted reproduction" because it is not a high priority concern in the field of bioinformatics compared to other biological fields. Hence, blame could be placed on professors and their curriculum for cause on this challenging issue. The figure below was a random study of bioinformatics undergraduate and graduate programs. The study tested for courses like “ethic seminars, short courses, compulsory courses or elective courses related” (Taneri, 2011). The data indicated that majority of the institutions did not have an (bio) ethics courses in the curriculum.
Another cause for ethical issues facing bioinformatics is the government and publications from bioinformatics analyst and scientist. An interesting point is through Moor's logic, which focuses on how someone taking persons genetic data is like taking someone’s credit card numbers (Hongladarom, 2006). This raises important
bioinformatics ethical questions that need to be addressed. Do the bioinformaticians need to get consent from the individuals prior to their study? Do bioinformaticians have the responsibility to share the results of their research with the owner of the genomes? Do they have the right to publish results on an analysis performed on a personal genome? (Sethi &...