A program designed to foster community among incoming freshmen and transfer students at the University of California, Berkeley, is getting some backlash, thanks to an unusual proposal. Instead of encouraging everyone to read the same book—last fall it was The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan —the university will ask new students this fall to give their DNA. DNA will be analyzed for three genes , including one that metabolizes alcohol, and students can enter a contest to win more in-depth analysis from a personal genomics company. Jasper Rine, the Berkeley geneticist who is overseeing the project , has said it will help students learn about personalized medicine.
But the Berkeley-based Center for Genetics and Society has called on UC Berkeley to suspend the program, saying in a statement  that "it puts the university's seal of approval on products that have not been - and may never be - approved by federal regulators." Bioethicists also expressed concern. "The program is definitely going forward," says UC Berkeley spokesperson Robert Sanders. "We still plan to ask" students to give DNA, "and hopefully we'll get a decent response, and there will be a great discussion about personalized medicine."