I’m Dr. Haig Kazazian – first plaintiff for the recent SCOTUS case on patenting human genes and Johns Hopkins geneticist, AMA!
Hi Reddit, my name is Dr. Haig Kazazian. Quick background: I’ve been studying human genetics since 1970 at Johns Hopkins. In 1994, I moved to the University of Pennsylvania to become chair of the Genetics department.
In 1995, I was working in a genetics lab at the University of Pennsylvania with my colleague Arupa Ganguly where we tested roughly 500 women per year for the breast-cancer-predicting genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.
In 1999, we received a "cease and desist" letter from Myriad Genetics, which had successfully patented the genes. Arupa and I became the first plaintiffs in the ACLU’s case against Myriad and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2008, which ultimately went before the Supreme Court.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that naturally occurring DNA sequences aren’t patent eligible. More on the ruling from the SCOTUS blog.
Ask me anything!
Edit 2: I need to run at 2:40 -- I'll try and answer a few more questions in the meantime.
Edit3: Thanks for all your questions. It was nice speaking with all of you. I've got to get back to work now. Best wishes, Haig Kazazian