July 20, 2013 (Washington, DC) — Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY25) visited the new Smithsonian exhibition, Genome
: Unlocking Life’s Code, on July 9. She was welcomed and guided on her tour by Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), and Eric Green, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).
A microbiologist with a master’s degree in public health, Rep. Slaughter introduced the first bill prohibiting genetic discrimination
in 1995 and is author of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
(GINA), enacted May 21, 2008. The Act bars health insurers from using genetic information about disease risk
as the basis for decisions about coverage, terms, or premiums, and similarly prohibits employers from considering such information in hiring, firing, promotions, or workplace benefits.
NHGRI considers GINA highly important for continuing advances in biomedical research and for reducing concerns that might discourage patients from genetic testing
– a source of valuable information in personalized medicine
Following her tour of the exhibit, Rep. Slaughter spent several minutes in the Genome Zone, where she – like many other visitors each day – extracted a visible sample of her own DNA
to take home … perhaps, even, to the House.