Interview with Jamie Kwong, AOMD Podcast Episode 012 – Natasha Bajema

Interview with Jamie Kwong, AOMD Podcast Episode 012


Welcome to the episode number 12 of the Authors of Mass Destruction podcast. My name is Natasha Bajema, aka WMDgirl on Twitter. I’m a fiction author, national security expert and your host for this podcast.

  • If you’re interested in science & technology, in reading good fiction, or want to write fiction based on technology, you’re in the right place.
  • Before we get started, a few notes:
    • The views expressed on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
    • The AOMD podcast is proud to be part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Check us out at
  • My headline for this week is “The US Urgently Needs New Genetic Privacy Laws” published on on May 1, 2019.
    • If you’ve listened to the Bionic Bug Podcast, then you know that genomic data is one of my many soap boxes.
    • The article starts off with “TWENTY YEARS AGO, you had about a 1 in 6 billion chance of knowing someone who’d had their DNA sequenced.” Why?
    • Perhaps, you’ve heard of the Human Genome Project? It was the first government-funded project to sequence an entire human genome—all 3 billion base pairs.
    • What is a genome? That’s your complete set of genetic code or DNA. It is unique to you and any of your identical twins.
    • The Human Genome Project involved the sequencing or “reading” of an entire human genome.
      • The project was established in 1990 by US Congress.
      • Congress set a target completion date for 2005 and estimated it would cost a total of $3 billion.
      • It was finished in 2003 and cost a bit less than expected, $2.7 billion dollars
    • Since then, the price of genome sequencing has dropped substantially. So much so that you’ve probably heard of people getting their DNA sequenced from companies such as 23andMe, and other direct-to-consumer sequencing companies.
    • What happens to that data after you receive your results on where you came from?
      • The company owns it and sells it for other purposes.
    • There are no privacy protections in US at this time unless it is part of your medical record which is governed by HIPAA and means “your genetic data can’t be given to your school or employer, but law enforcement agencies are entitled to access it without a warrant if you’re the victim or suspect of a criminal investigation.”
    • But once your DNA is part of your medical record, your health insurance has access. In 2008, US Congress pass the Genetic Nondiscrimination Act, which prevents health insurance companies from charging more for genetic predispositions for different health conditions.
    • But there are no protections against other forms of discrimination. The article uses the examples of applying to get into a senior citizen’s home or a school and your DNA is required for admission; decisions can be made based on that information.
    • Good news? In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes and genomes cannot be patented. However, private companies can get patents on synthetic genes or altered genes.
  • Let’s get to my interview. This week, I’m talking to the incredibly impressive Jamie Kwong. She’s a PhD Candidate at Kings College in the UK. We talk about North Korea, the Nuclear Posture Review, the Nuclear Triad and US nuclear modernization.

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