As genomic science has evolved, so have policy and practice debates about how to describe and evaluate the ways in which genomic information is treated for individuals, institutions, and society. The term genetic exceptionalism, describing the concept that genetic information is special or unique, and specifically different from other kinds of medical information, has been utilized widely, but often counterproductively in these debates. We offer genomic contextualism as a new term to frame the characteristics of genomic science in the debates. (...) Using stasis theory to draw out the important connection between definitional issues and resulting policies, we argue that the framework of genomic contextualism is better suited to evaluating genomics and its policy-relevant features to arrive at more productive discussion and resolve policy debates. (shrink)
Drawing on a landscape analysis of existing data-sharing initiatives, in-depth interviews with expert stakeholders, and public deliberations with community advisory panels across the U.S., we describe features of the evolving medical information commons. We identify participant-centricity and trustworthiness as the most important features of an MIC and discuss the implications for those seeking to create a sustainable, useful, and widely available collection of linked resources for research and other purposes.
In 2004, the Havasupai Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona State University researchers upon discovering their DNA samples, initially collected for genetic studies on type 2 diabetes, had been used in several other genetic studies. The lawsuit reached a settlement in April 2010 that included monetary compensation and return of DNA samples to the Havasupai but left no legal precedent for researchers. Through semistructured interviews, institutional review board chairs and human genetics researchers at US (...) research institutions revealed their perspectives on the Havasupai lawsuit. For interviewees, the suit drew attention to indigenous concerns over genetic studies and increased their awareness of indigenous views. However, interviewees perceived no direct impact from the Havasupai case on their work; if they did, it was the perceived need to safeguard themselves by obtaining broad consent or shying away from research with indigenous communities altogether, raising important questions of justice for indigenous and minority participants. If researchers and IRBs do not change their practices in light of this case, these populations will likely continue to be excluded from a majority of research studies and left with less access to resources and potential benefit from genetic research participation. (shrink)
In this consensus report by a diverse group of academics who conduct and/or are concerned about social and behavioral genomics (SBG) research, the authors recount the often‐ugly history of scientific attempts to understand the genetic contributions to human behaviors and social outcomes. They then describe what the current science—including genomewide association studies and polygenic indexes—can and cannot tell us, as well as its risks and potential benefits. They conclude with a discussion of responsible behavior in the context of SBG research. (...) SBG research that compares individuals within a group according to a “sensitive” phenotype requires extra attention to responsible conduct and to responsible communication about the research and its findings. SBG research (1) on sensitive phenotypes that (2) compares two or more groups defined by (a) race, (b) ethnicity, or (c) genetic ancestry (where genetic ancestry could easily be misunderstood as race or ethnicity) requires a compelling justification to be conducted, funded, or published. All authors agree that this justification at least requires a convincing argument that a study's design could yield scientifically valid results; some authors would additionally require the study to have a socially favorable risk‐benefit profile. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:A wide range of research uses patterns of genetic variation to infer genetic similarity between individuals, typically referred to as genetic ancestry. This research includes inference of human demographic history, understanding the genetic architecture of traits, and predicting disease risk. Researchers are not just structuring an intellectual inquiry when using genetic ancestry, they are also creating analytical frameworks with broader societal ramifications. This essay presents an ethics framework in the spirit of virtue ethics for these researchers: rather than focus on (...) rule following, the framework is designed to build researchers’ capacities to react to the ethical dimensions of their work. The authors identify one overarching principle of intellectual freedom and responsibility, noting that freedom in all its guises comes with responsibility, and they identify and define four principles that collectively uphold researchers’ intellectual responsibility: truthfulness, justice and fairness, anti-racism, and public beneficence. Researchers should bring their practices into alignment with these principles, and to aid this, the authors name three common ways research practices infringe these principles, suggest a step-by-step process for aligning research choices with the principles, provide rules of thumb for achieving alignment, and give a worked case. The essay concludes by identifying support needed by researchers to act in accord with the proposed framework. (shrink)
“The sins of the fathers are to be laid upon the children.”Just after midnight on March 21, 2003, a drunk stood on a footbridge over a motorway in a village in Surrey in southern England. After eight pints of beer, he was drunk enough to decide to drop a brick from the overpass into traffic to see if he could hit something; unfortunately, he was not so drunk that he missed. The brick crashed through the windshield on the driver's side (...) of a truck. It hit the driver, Michael Little, in the chest, triggering a fatal heart attack. He stayed conscious long enough to pull the truck safely to the side of the road, thereby perhaps saving other motorists; then he died. The crime was widely publicized, as was the driver's role in preventing any further accidents. (shrink)
The authors examine the scientific possibility and the legal and ethical implications of using DNA forensic technology, through partial matches to DNA from crime scenes, to turn into suspects the relatives of people whose DNA profiles are in forensic databases.
There has been considerable debate on which genomic research results to return to participants and when those results should be returned, but little attention to how those results should be returned, especially to minority and culturally diverse participants. This paper explores the cultural and ethical considerations around returning research results to participants and families of culturally diverse backgrounds, with a special focus on considerations when the research participant is deceased, and raises points for further discussion.