InfoSec Seminar: The Genomics Revolution: Innovation Dream or Privacy Nightmare?

Speaker: Emiliano De Cristofaro (UCL)

Date/Time: 16-Apr-2015, 15:00 UTC

Venue: MPEB 1.03



Impressive advances in genomics and DNA sequencing have opened the way to a variety of revolutionary applications in modern healthcare. The increasing understanding of the genome, its relation to diseases and response to treatments brings promise of improvements in preventive and personalised healthcare. This very same progress, however, also prompts worrisome privacy concerns, as the genome is a treasure trove of highly personal and sensitive information. Besides carrying information about ethnic heritage, genetic conditions, and predisposition to specific diseases, it also contains information about the individual's relatives. The leakage of such information can open the door to a variety of abuses and threats not yet fully understood.

In this talk, we overview biomedical advances in genomics and discuss associated privacy, ethical, and security challenges, from a computer science perspective. We begin to address privacy-respecting genomic tests by discussing a set of efficient techniques for secure genome testing. We also explore a few alternatives to securely store human genomes and allow authorized parties to run tests in such a way that only the required minimum amount of information is disclosed.

(Joint keynote speech for TPDP/HotSpot 2015)


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