Genetic research has moved from Mendelian genetics to sequence maps to the study of natural human genetic variation at the level of the genome. This past decade of discovery has been accompanied by a shift in emphasis towards the ethical principles of reciprocity, mutuality, solidarity, citizenry and universality.
Currently, the return of results in the domain of biobanking constitutes an ethical and legal quagmire, whether it involves population or specific clinical research studies. In light of the fact that population biobanks are often not seen as distinct from those biobanks created for disease research, as well as the uncertainty as to what “return of results” means concretely, this lexicon attempts to demystify the terminology. The terms — results, return, clinical significance, and utility — are discussed. Through an analysis (...) of international and national normative guidance on this issue, the authors propose a concordance of meaning and a simplified lexicon. (shrink)
This article outlines procedures for the feedback of individual research data to participants. This feedback framework was developed in the context of a personalized medicine research project in Canada. Researchers in this domain have an ethical obligation to return individual research results and/or material incidental findings that are clinically significant, valid and actionable to participants. Communication of individual research data must proceed in an ethical and efficient manner. Feedback involves three procedural steps: assessing the health relevance of a finding, re-identifying (...) the affected participant, and communicating the finding. Re-identification requires researchers to break the code in place to protect participant identities. Coding systems replace personal identifiers with a numerical code. Double coding systems provide added privacy protection by separating research data from personal identifying data with a third "linkage" database. A trusted and independent intermediary, the "keyholder", controls access to this linkage database. (shrink)
BackgroundGlobal collaboration in genomic research is increasingly both a scientific reality and an ethical imperative. This past decade has witnessed the emergence of six new, interconnected areas of ethical consensus and emphasis for policy in genomics: governance, security, empowerment, transparency, the right not to know, and globalization.DiscussionThe globalization of genomic research warrants an approach to governance policies grounded in human rights.SummaryA human rights approach activates the ethical principles underpinning genomic research. It lends force to the right of all citizens to (...) benefit from scientific progress, and to the right of all scientists to be recognized for their contributions. (shrink)
This paper addresses the ethical issues of secondary uses of samples collected for identification purposes following mass disasters. It studies norms governing secondary use of samples , ultimately concluding that limited secondary research uses of these samples should be permissible.