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NHGRI Awards $20M to Four Centers to Explore Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genomics Research

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (GenomeWeb News) - The National Human Genome Research Institute said today that it has awarded about $20 million in funding over the next five years to establish four new interdisciplinary centers as part of its Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Research initiative.


The initiative, which will also receive funding from the US Department of Energy and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is intended to address some of the most pressing ethical, legal, and social questions raised by recent advances in genetics and genomic research, NHGRI said in an official statement.


Each of the centers will recruit experts spanning several disciplines, including bioethics, law, behavioral and social sciences, clinical research, theology, public policy, and genetic and genomic research, NHGRI said.


The four grants awarded are:

  • $5.3 million over five years to Case Western Reserve University's Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law, led by Eric Juengst, to "study the ethical issues in the design and conduct of human genetic research, including issues regarding the protection of human subjects in research."
  • $4.8 million over five years to Duke University's Center for the Study of Public Genomics, led by Robert Cook-Deegan, to "gather and analyze information about the role of publication, data and materials sharing, patenting, database protection, and other practices that may affect the flow of information in genomics research."
  • $3.8 million over five years to Stanford University School of Medicine's Center for Integration of Research on Genetics and Ethics, led by Mildred Cho, to "focus on the ethical, legal, and social consequences of uncovering the genomic contributions that may contribute to behavioral and neurological conditions."
  • $4.7 million over five years to the University of Washington's Center for Genomic Health Care and the Medically Underserved, led by Wylie Burke, to "conduct research on the ethical, legal, and social factors that influence the translation of genetic information to improved human health."

In addition to these principal awards, NHGRI has also awarded three exploratory grants to investigators for planning and developing potential new centers at their institutions. These awards are:

  • $560,000 over three years to Alexandra Shields of GeorgetownUniversity, to support plans to develop a center "dedicated to examining the intersection of genetics, vulnerable populations, and health disparities in tobacco dependence, asthma, and diabetes."
  • $700,000 over three years to Charmaine Royal of Howard University, to support plans to develop a center to "analyze social and cultural identities of individuals and communities of African descent and how those identities influence attitudes about genomics and health care as well as health behaviors."
  • $430,000 over two years to Donald Bailey of the University of North Carolina to support plans to develop a center to "examine how information from large-sample genetic studies is used and disclosed in biomedical research."
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