Because research can be very competitive, one can not exclude a discussion of ethics. The race for the double helix clearly calls for a discussion of ethics.
Rosalind Franklin was a young female doctorate, working in the 1950s in a male dominated field. She was isolated, and collaborated with no one. She was criticized for being passive, and lacking insight. Others tell a story of a woman who was misled into thinking she had independence and control over her research. They describe a bitter relationship between her and Maurice Wilkins- the man who ultimately received the Noble prize for her photograph. Is this fair?
We can also look at Watson and Crick, the two whose name is credited with the discovery of the double helix. But these two men didn’t do any of the laboratory experiments with this molecule. Do these men deserve that credit? Many believe that they do, because after all it was their insight that figured it all out. Yet what about the others whose name is unfamiliar even though their collaboration in that discovery was essential.
The Human Genome Project can be approached in many ways. Is this project going to reach its projections for sequencing the genome of a man from Albany, NY by next summer? What will be done with this information, and what implications might it have? How long before a project to determine the function of each of these genes, and when might that be completed? There are also companies that are patenting the genes they discover, and these companies are independent of the National Project that is federally funded. What does it mean to have a patent on a gene?
In addition, questions such as the following could be addressed: Does advancing technology bring forth benefits for all of society? Where is technology headed? Do you like the direction that it is heading? What technologies have improved our existence? What are the benefits of genetic screening? What are the benefits of genetic cloning?