The Supreme Court's has said no to gene patents, but what about genetically-based marketing claims? Federal gene expert and TC alumna Vivian Ota Wang explains why she opposed approval of a drug that purported to treat congestive heart failure in African Americans -- a group for which there is no genetic definition.
As Program Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health), Vivian Ota Wang (M. Phil. '94, Ph.D. ,'95) oversees the use of databases created by researchers working with federal grants which have genetic and phenotype information that can potentially identify individuals. A former genetic counselor, she also has served as NIH representative to the President's National Science and Technology Council during the Bush II and Obama administrations. She previously held tenure-track faculty positions at Rutgers, Arizona State and Vanderbilt universities. While at Teachers College, where she studied in the Counseling Psychology Program of the Counseling and Clinical Psychology department with faculty members Robert Carter and Patricia Raskin, she received funding from the National Society of Genetic Counselors to develop a multicultural genetics counseling program. She became one of the first practitioners to bring genetics into the broader field of counseling psychology. Her essay "The House of God: The Fallacy of Neutral Universalism in Medicine," appears in The Handbook on Racial-Cultural Psychology and Counseling, edited by Robert Carter.
Ota Wang's accomplishment's have been recognized by the NSGC Special Projects Fund Award, Asian American Psychological Association's Distinguished Contributions Award, the American Psychological Association's Board of Scientific Affairs Meritorious Research Service Commendation, the DHHS Secretary's Award for Distinguished Service, the NIH Director's Awards, the NHGRI Merit Awards, the Colorado College Louis T. Benezet Award and the Teachers College/Columbia University Distinguished Alumnus Award.