Turn your DNA into art.

I met many fascinating people in Minneapolis at Innovation 2008.  One of them is Lynn Fellman, an artist who creates personalized portraits–and I do mean personalized. Her portraits are based on DNA sequences and mutation markers.

I’m ordering one–choosing to ignore that nagging inner voice cautioning me against this. “Do you REALLY want your DNA information to end up in the hands of scientists, insurance agents, future employers or worse–marketers!?”  Lynn assures me my DNA will be kept top secret and remain nameless.

Hey, a couple of weeks ago, ten super smart people volunteered to donate their DNA to science. More from Scientific American:

Ten people  allowed their genetic maps to be publicly displayed on the Web in the name of research. The effort is part of Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genome Project (PGP), which aims to create a large public database of human DNA to aid researchers in their quest to find the causes and cures for genetic maladies.   

One of the participants explains how relatively inexpensive DNA sequencing technology works and why he believes this project has the potential to change the face of medical research.

While another argues that privacy issues may be a concern but that it’s overshadowed by the fear that insurance companies will refuse to provide coverage or will charge sky-high rates if aware that someone has a pre-existing genetic condition or risk of developing a certain disease.

Interested in having your health history and genes published online for the benefit of science?  The project got approval this spring to expand the project to 100,000 people, and they’re looking for volunteers.