As more and more information on our genes has become available in the past 10 years, genetic testing has joined the arsenal of tools routinely used by health professionals. Today a San Francisco company called DNA Direct is bringing genetic testing directly to consumers. Tests to diagnose your risk of developing diseases such as breast and colon cancer can be ordered through their Web site and done in the privacy of your home. In many cases it’s as easy as swabbing the inside of your cheek and mailing it off. Proponents argue that companies offering this new breed of “direct-to-consumer” genetic testing provide people a convenient way to find out about their genetic risk. But critics say that patients who order medical genetic tests online may not be getting as much counseling as they need to understand the implications of their test results.

“Condors vs. Lead Bullets and Genetic Testing” (episode #103) airs tonight on QUEST at 7:30pm on KQED 9, and KQED HD, Comcast 709. (full schedule)

You may also view the entire Forensic Identification segment online.

Gabriela Quirós is a Segment Producer for KQED-TV, and is the producer for this segment.

Discuss the "Genetic testing through the Web" TV story 6 July,2011Gabriela Quirós
  • gemma cubero

    fascinating! really liked how it was done. great story. g

  • Ben Burress

    I would be interested in knowing what this company’s privacy policy is, and if there is full disclosure of results to the client. Personally, I’d be fascinated to know more details about my own genes–even at the risk of learning something dark. As for this type of information falling into the hands of insurance companies–I have to wonder how long it will be before this type of testing is PART of the insurance application process….

  • Hi Ben, DNA Direct provides full disclosure of results to the client. Depending on the test, this disclosure may be online via a Personalized Report, or in a telephone counseling session followed up with an online Personalized Report. Here’s a link to DNA Direct’s Privacy Policy. Also, you might be interested in our Standards & Consumer Guidelines.

    (I’m the director of content at DNA Direct and have a blog about genetics and health at DNA Direct Talk.

  • Valerie Tucker

    What about the insurance implications–recent articles have highlighted the fact that when a claim is made insurance companies comb through all “confidential” medical record to find evidence of a pre-existing condition or some other “misrepresentation” to disallow coverage. While a genetic test is currently one data point on many types of illnesses, they are literally time bombs of information that insurance companies can use against you.


Gabriela Quirós

Gabriela Quirós is a video producer for KQED Science and the coordinating producer for Deep Look. She started her journalism career 25 years ago as a newspaper reporter in Costa Rica, where she grew up. She won two national reporting awards there for series on C-sections and organic agriculture, and developed a life-long interest in health reporting. She moved to the Bay Area in 1996 to study documentary filmmaking at the University of California-Berkeley, where she received master’s degrees in journalism and Latin American studies. She joined KQED as a TV producer when its science series QUEST started in 2006 and has covered everything from Alzheimer’s to bee die-offs to dark energy. She has won five regional Emmys and has shared awards from the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Independent from her work in KQED's science unit, she produced and directed the hour-long documentary Beautiful Sin, about the surprising story of how Costa Rica became the only country in the world to outlaw in vitro fertilization. The film aired nationally on public television stations in 2015.

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