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Gill Bejerano: How cryptogenomics advances both science and privacy

Uniting computer science, mathematics and genomics, one professor hopes to expand access to DNA while also keeping it secret.
Illustration of genome sequence map.
An illustration of a genome sequence map. | Shutterstock/Tartila

Much of what the world knows about genetic diseases is learned by comparing the DNA of people with a shared disease against the DNA of otherwise healthy people to learn where the differences lie.

This is all well and good except that, written into all that DNA, is a lot of other information that the subjects would rather keep private. And that’s where Gill Bejerano enters the scene. He’s an expert in cryptogenomics, a discipline that marries the fields of cryptography and genomics to essentially scramble the genetic code to researchers in such a way that they can still glean valuable information from it without revealing the donor’s entire genetic code.

Bejerano’s efforts have been so successful he’s now applying a similar process to medical records, as he explains to host Russ Altman and listeners of this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast. Listen and subscribe here.

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