Toward a Framework for Assessing Privacy Risks in Multi-Omic Research and Databases

Charles Dupras*, Eline M. Bunnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


While the accumulation and increased circulation of genomic data have captured much attention over the past decade, privacy risks raised by the diversification and integration of omics have been largely overlooked. In this paper, we propose the outline of a framework for assessing privacy risks in multi-omic research and databases. Following a comparison of privacy risks associated with genomic and epigenomic data, we dissect ten privacy risk-impacting omic data properties that affect either the risk of re-identification of research participants, or the sensitivity of the information potentially conveyed by biological data. We then propose a three-step approach for the assessment of privacy risks in the multi-omic era. Thus, we lay grounds for a data property-based, ‘pan-omic’ approach that moves away from genetic exceptionalim. We conclude by inviting our peers to refine these theoretical foundations, put them to the test in their respective fields, and translate our approach into practical guidance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Journal of Bioethics
Issue number12
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


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