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NIH Seeks Comment on Proposed Large-Scale Population Study of Genes, Environment, and Disease

NEW YORK, June 12 (GenomeWeb News) - The Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society at the National Institutes of Health is seeking public input on a draft report outlining issues associated with a proposed US cohort project linking genes, environment, and disease.  


The report, "Policy Issues Associated with Undertaking a Large US Population Cohort Project on Genes, Environment, and Disease, is available here. 


It focuses on "preliminary and intermediate questions, steps, and strategies in five areas that should be addressed before an informed decision can be made about whether the United States should undertake a large population cohort project on the interaction of genes, environment and disease," NIH said in a request for public comment issued on Friday.


The five areas that the report addresses include research policy; research logistics; regulatory and ethical issues; public health implications of research results; and social implications of research results. 


The committee said that it is particularly seeking comment on whether the issues identified in the draft report are appropriately focused, whether any policy issues have been overlooked, and whether the issues are "organized in appropriate categories and addressed in such a way as to give policymakers sufficient understanding of why the issue is important."


The draft report describes the goal of the population project as "ascertaining and quantifying all of the major environmental and genetic causes of common illnesses, setting the stage for a future of better preventive medicine and more effective therapy."


According to the draft report, the proposed project would involve between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people, with a population sampled from "defined Census tracts" that would be recruited "primarily door-to-door" over a four-year period. Study participants would be contacted twice per year and the cohort would be re-examined on average every four years. Disease outcomes would be assessed using hospital records, outpatient records, and other data sources.


Additional details on the proposed study are available here.


Comments on the draft report should be submitted by July 31.

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