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Ethical issues in the application of genome-wide association studies to US military recruitment and personnel assignments
  1. Daniel J Hurst1 and
  2. L A Padilla2
  1. 1Family Medicine, Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2Epidemiology and Surgery, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Daniel J Hurst, Family Medicine, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, USA; hurst{at}


Genome-wide association studies seek to associate an organism’s genotypes with phenotypes. The goal of such research is to identify specific genetic variants that may be used to predict an individual’s risk for a specific physical or mental disease. Recently, it has been recommended that policymakers in the USA should employ genomic surveillance so that it can be used for initial military personnel selection and personnel assignments. However, such a proposal highlights the necessity of subjecting such recommendations to rigorous ethical analysis, including concerns regarding recruitment, transparency and the return of genetic results.

  • ETHICS (see Medical Ethics)

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  • Contributors DJH completed the first draft of the paper. LAP contributed to specific sections and edited the overall manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests DJH is an officer in the US Air Force Reserve. The viewpoints in this article are his and do not necessarily reflect the Department of Defense. No other competing interests are declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.