Re-examining the Gene in Personalized Genomics
Personalized genomics companies (PG; also called ‘direct-to-consumer genetics’) are businesses marketing genetic testing to consumers over the Internet. While much has been written about these new businesses, little attention has been given to their roles in science communication. This paper provides an analysis of the gene concept presented to customers and the relation between the information given and the science behind PG. Two quite different gene concepts are present in company rhetoric, but only one features in the science. To explain this, we must appreciate the delicate tension between PG, academic science, public expectation, and market forces.