What can people expect from biotechnology and genomics? Ten luminaries from the biomedical arena, law, and journalism grappled with issues related to that question at the City University of New York's Graduate Center on Sept. 20. In attendance was an audience of 350 whose research, medical, and counseling careers could hinge on how such issues are resolved. Syracuse University's Gene Media Forum (www.genemedia.org) sponsored the event.

The recurring theme was biological predictability. Eric Lander, director of the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research, in Cambridge, Mass., noted that in the past century, biologists "worked out a disease by being clever enough to figure out what was wrong." The systematic approach of genomics, he continued, would render research largely predictable.

Panelists stressed, nevertheless, that genomics would not yield answers easily. Harold Varmus, president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said that biologists were used to...

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