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Privacy in Pharmacogenetics: An End-to-End Case Study of Personalized Warfarin Dosing
Matthew Fredrikson, Eric Lantz, and Somesh Jha, University of Wisconsin—Madison; Simon Lin, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation; David Page and Thomas Ristenpart, University of Wisconsin—Madison
Best Paper at USENIX Security '14: Link to Paper
We initiate the study of privacy in pharmacogenetics, wherein machine learning models are used to guide medical treatments based on a patient’s genotype and background. Performing an in-depth case study on privacy in personalized warfarin dosing, we show that suggested models carry privacy risks, in particular because attackers can perform what we call model inversion: an attacker, given the model and some demographic information about a patient, can predict the patient’s genetic markers.
As differential privacy (DP) is an oft-proposed solution for medical settings such as this, we evaluate its effectiveness for building private versions of pharmacogenetic models. We show that DP mechanisms prevent our model inversion attacks when the privacy budget is carefully selected. We go on to analyze the impact on utility by performing simulated clinical trials with DP dosing models. We find that for privacy budgets effective at preventing attacks, patients would be exposed to increased risk of stroke, bleeding events, and mortality. We conclude that current DP mechanisms do not simultaneously improve genomic privacy while retaining desirable clinical efficacy, highlighting the need for new mechanisms that should be evaluated in situ using the general methodology introduced by our work.