scientific and technologic developments in the second half of the 20th century brought along considerable changes in the ethical debate and in the regulations pertinent to medical genetics. early scientists, in the 1960s, were concerned about confidentiality of information in what regards family counseling. innovations, in the last years, in various areas such as prenatal diagnosis, molecular genetics applied to preventive medicine, gene therapy, and even pharmacogenetics, had a profound impact on the subject matter and scope of the ethical thinking and debate. for instance, informed consent and confidentiality rules became particularly important in medical genetics. the unique sensitivity of this topic stems from the fact that the study subject is no longer an individual but an entire family. controversial issues still unresolved are the management of dna collections (banks) and other genetic samples. also, still unsettled are themes pertaining to the risks inherent to genomic determinations leading to predictions of probability of future disease, and the moral impact of stem cell therapy requiring embryonic destruction. international or national ethic norms, or mandates pertaining to a variety of jurisdictions, cannot, must not, be ignored by anybody working in the field, the same as it would be done, for example, with regard to the common law pertaining to other endeavors. this compliance is even more imperative in regard to protocols involving humans as subjects of investigation.