Pioneer Interdisciplinary Initiative

The National Human Genome Research
Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), announced recently the funding of four
interdisciplinary centers as part of a new initiative to
address some of the most pressing ethical, legal and social
questions raised by recent advances in genetic and genomic
research.

The initiative, the Centers for Excellence in Ethical,
Legal and Social Implications Research, is being led by
NHGRI, with significant contributions from the U.S.
Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). About $20
million in grants will be awarded over the next five years
with DOE contributing $500,000 and NICHD, $450,000. The
first four Centers are being established at Case Western
Reserve University, Cleveland; Duke University, Durham,
N.C.; Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and the
University of Washington, Seattle.

“The NHGRI’s pioneering program supporting research in the
ethical, legal and social implications of genomic knowledge
provides the basis for this exciting new initiative,” said
NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “We will now
build upon this foundation by establishing
interdisciplinary research centers that can take an even
more dynamic and broad-based approach to identifying and
addressing some of the most pressing issues facing
individuals, families and communities in the genome era.”

Each of the new centers will assemble a team of experts in
several disciplines, such as bioethics, law, behavioral and
social sciences, clinical research, theology, public
policy, and genetic and genomic research. The
interdisciplinary nature of these teams will allow the
centers to develop innovative research approaches focused
on specific sets of issues that relate to the numerous
applications of genomic research, including the scientific
goals and challenges identified by NHGRI in “A Vision for
the Future of Genomics Research,” which was published in
April 2003 in the journal “Nature”. The centers’ output
will be critical in formulating and implementing effective
and equitable health and social policies related to genomic
research. In addition, the centers will create new
environments to support the growth of the next generation
of researchers on the ethical, legal and social
implications of genomic research. Special efforts will be
made to recruit potential researchers from under-
represented groups.


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