Experimental Man

I just wrapped up viewing an intriguing power-point by David Ewing Duncan which summarizes his effort to create a comprehensive portrait of his health and body at its deepest levels, including his genetic make-up and the toxins present in his body. The results and his journey will be reviewed in book coming out later this year. Duncan is attempting to provide a window into the future of individual health-care utilizing cutting-edge diagnostic tests and I'm guessing he will hint at some of the downsides of these tests (he references the film Gattaca in his power-point, which is a solid and moving investigation of a future ruled by genetic engineering).

Efforts are currently underway to develop a $1,000 personal genome sequence (link). Some of the tests, like the EEG, are quite common, others are rarer. But the power of these tests isn't necessarily one or the other in a vacuum, but the sum of them, and that what is interesting about Duncan's project, in how he is trying to synthesize them.

This new era of health care is fascinating, even more so because members of my family are participating in it. We have had an fMRI test and are scheduled for limited genetic testing for one of my sons. Our hope is to prove a negative, but it is comforting to have the option to check.

From my experience, there is still a staggering amount to be learned about the brain and the body. But there is also a staggering amount of new things being learned about the brain and body that are demystifying them ever so slightly. In the long run, I think we will all benefit.

(via Kevin Kelly)

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