University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Office of Medical Communications

Professor Debra Leonard, M.D., comments on gene patents on WCAX-TV

Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph.D.

(JUNE 26, 2013) Early June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling declaring that human genes cannot be patented. Debra Leonard, M.D., Ph.D., UVM professor of pathology and chair of the Personalized Health Care Committee of the College of American Pathologists discussed the significance of this ruling on WCAX-TV's program, The :30. The case was based on a Utah company called Myriad Genetics that discovered two genes that can predict a woman's risk of breast cancer, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The court said Myriad Genetics did not create those genes, and therefore it could not patent them. Dr. Leonard explains that this will give physicians and researchers greater freedom, which will lead to lower costs for patients. Dr. Leonard also commented on the case on Fletcher Allen Health Care’s blog, on June 13, 2013.

Watch the full interview.