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NIH to Fund Studies Examining Implications of Genome Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced that it is seeking grant applications for studies examining the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genome research.

Amid advances in genomic technologies and falling sequencing costs, the number of people being sequenced is steadily increasing, the NIH said in its funding announcement. Meanwhile, information technologies continue to evolve, changing the ways genomic data are stored, analyzed, shared, and used in commercial, biomedical, and non-medical settings. "Taken together, these developments may have profound effects on many long-standing societal beliefs and norms," the agency added.

To help understand these issues, the NIH is soliciting applications from researchers from a wide range of disciplines to investigate the scope and reach of genomic advances in society. Specifically, the agency aims to fund projects examining and addressing the ethical, legal, and social issues that arise in connection with the design and conduct of genetic and genomic research, including informed consent, data security, privacy, and boundaries between research and clinical care.

The NIH is also looking for projects focused on the ethical, legal, and social implications of the translation of genetic and genomic research into clinical medicine and health care. Of particular interest here are issues such as the economics of genomic medicine, the rights and responsibilities of patients and providers, and the clinical and personal utility of genomic health information.

Studies looking to the broader legal, policy, and societal issues of genomic research are also of interest to the NIH, including ones examining genomic equality and social justice, non-medical uses of genomics, and the effect of genetic determinism on attitudes, behavior, and policy.

Funding is available through the NIH's R21 exploratory/developmental research grant program, its R03 small research grant program, and its R01 research project grant program. The total funds available and anticipated number of awards are contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Additional details can be found here, here, and here