I'm going to be making my away over to Beijing and other parts of Asia towards the end of next week, so I have to step out shortly to get some new inoculations.
I'm really looking forward to the journey...not so much to the shots.
In this particular case, I suspect the visit to the travel health clinic here in South Austin will involve needles which will provide me the appropriate dose of various serum.
But it just as easily could have been a situation where I'm giving blood for testing, storage, etc.
Which reminded me of an issue that I had been meaning to post about: The Genetic Nondiscrimination Act which was recently passed by the U.S. Senate.
As our Chief Privacy Officer, Harriet Pearson, recently posted on her internal blog at IBM, proposed legislation in the U.S. takes an average of 6 years to become law in the U.S. (if ever).
The Genetic Information Discrimination Act took 15 years to get passed, and it was done so not without a small measure of assistance from Harriet and her public policy team at IBM.
Better late than never, I say.
As you may or may not be aware, after the mapping of the human genome was completed, genetics-based personalized medicine accelerated, including the opportunity for genetic tests that can now account for the probability of an individual having a predisposition to certain kinds of diseases.
So in 2005, our Chairman wrote to all of us inside IBM and indicated that it had become policy within our company not to discriminate against an employee on the basis of genetics, and to treat such information with the highest of privacy and security standards.
It doesn't take a genetic scientist to understand how such information could potentially be misused: Denial of health care coverage, discrimination in hiring based on genetic predisposition...you get the picture.
To help the Congress and the public better understand IBM's rationale and details behind this position, Harriet shared the company's stand on the issue in her testimony before the U.S. Congress on January 30 of last year.
You can read that testimony here.
At the end of the same document, you can also read the email that Sam Palmisano sent out to his troops explaining IBM's policy against genetic discrimination.
It was encouraging when it appeared in my in-box in 2005, and it was encouraging to see the U.S. Congress establish legislation similar to IBM's policy to protect all Americans against genetic discrimination in the workplace earlier this month.
As for me, I'm off to get my booster shots -- which will explain why you'll see me standing for the next several days.UPDATE: Okay, the shots ended up going into my arms instead. Two on the left, two on the right. It's been barely two hours and they are already really, really sore. Just for the record.