Edmonton

Oberg steps down as CEO of DNA testing clinic

Former Alberta cabinet minister Dr. Lyle Oberg is stepping down as the president and CEO of Canada's first private DNA testing clinic which opened Wednesday in Edmonton.
Former Alberta cabinet minister, Dr. Lyle Oberg, talks about a private DNA testing clinic that opened Wednesday in Edmonton. ((CBC))

Former Alberta cabinet minister Dr. Lyle Oberg is stepping down as the president and CEO of Canada's first private DNA testing clinic which opened Wednesday in Edmonton.

"There has been some question about a medical doctor being involved in such a high-tech company," Oberg said.

"So rather than cause any issues, it is much easier for me to step down and allow the company to provide the service to the people of Canada rather than causing a conflict by me being a medical doctor."

Oberg, a medical doctor, has been behind the company known as the Canadian Centre for DNA Diagnostics or C2DNA for a year. Oberg's brother will now take over as the company's CEO. Oberg will continue as an adviser.

For a fee ranging from $249 to $299, C2DNA says it will test people's DNA to determine if they are genetically predisposed to conditions like alcoholism, obesity and Alzheimer's disease.

But the service is raising ethical and privacy issues for some because clients will receive the results online, and the company won't provide any feedback or counselling on what it means to test positive for certain medical conditions.

"Just because you have the gene doesn't mean you're going to get the disease," said Arlene Huhn from the Alzheimer Society of Alberta.

People have the right to access this information, Oberg said, but they have to determine for themselves whether they want to know.

"Only you can answer that," he said.

Oberg was the Progressive Conservative MLA for the riding of Strathmore-Brooks from 1993 to 2008.

He was a cabinet minister under Ralph Klein with portfolios including Family and Social Services, Learning, and Infrastructure and Transportation.

Oberg dropped out of the PC Party leadership race which was eventually won by Ed Stelmach in 2006. Oberg served as finance minister under Stelmach. He didn't run for office in the March 2008 provincial election.

Corrections

  • The cost of the DNA testing at C2DNA ranges from $249 to $299. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the cost of the tests could be as much as $3,000.
    Jun 04, 2010 6:15 AM MT