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NIH to Fund New Studies of Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health will fund new projects that delve into the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of human genomics research, such as efforts to identify, analyze, and address the ways in which advances in genomics impact health sciences and medicine.

These studies may examine the ways in which genomics is affecting society and use approaches from different disciplines, such as ethics, economics, law, clinical and computational sciences, philosophy, epidemiology, and other areas.

NIH's genomics ethics research programs have primarily been headed by the National Human Genome Research Institute, which has laid out a strategic plan and list of priorities for ELSI studies it deems most important for the research community and society. Grants supported under this funding will fall under these themes. They will address issues related to handling genomic and clinical information, and examine how rapid advances in genomics tools have influenced healthcare.

Researchers also will use these awards to study beliefs, practices, and policies regarding genomic information, "as well as the implications of genomics for how we conceptualize and understand such issues as health, disease, and individual responsibility." They also will explore the effects of existing genomics research; health, public policies, and regulations; and generate data that policy makers and regulators can use to make informed decisions.

NIH will fund these ELSI projects through three grant types, including research project grants with no set budget limits, small research grants that provide $50,000 per year to support limited studies, and exploratory and development projects that will receive up to $275,000 per year.

Joining NHGRI in supporting these studies are the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and four other NIH institutes.

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