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History

The Center for Genomics and Society at UNC-Chapel Hill (CGS) was funded as a Center for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social (ELSI) Research in 2007 (P50HG004488). In 2013, it was awarded a competitive renewal. The CGS was administratively housed in the Department of Social Medicine, an interdisciplinary department in the School of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Our mission was to conduct transdisciplinary, policy-relevant research and to provide training on the ethical, legal and social implications of large-scale genomic studies and their translation into clinical and public health interventions.

The ELSI program of the NHGRI funded the creation of research centers such as ours with the resources and expertise to design and implement multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary investigations of particularly complex, persistent or rapidly emerging ELSI issues, because they believe that they are an important addition to ongoing genetic, genomic and ELSI research efforts. It is their hope that such Centers would continue to exist at their institutions even after P50 funding has ended.

Today

With support from the UNC School of Medicine Office of Research, the CGS continues to provide an intellectual environment for a diverse community of research scientists dedicated to translational research. Currently, there are several research projects at UNC that include an ELSI component. Some have overlapping faculty and staff, but the projects are independent of each other and are housed in different departments. The CGS seeks to facilitate communication and collaboration across these teams. The CGS is a consultation resource for these current projects, as well as for teams planning to write grants that include an ELSI component.  We can assist with preparation of R01 grant applications, training grant applications, and supplement requests, including minority supplements. Finally, the Center continues its role in mentoring future ELSI scholars by providing them with a community and access to faculty mentors.

Activities

Lunch and Learn Series

The Center for Genomics and Society and the Program for Precision Medicine in Healthcare partnered to host monthly Lunch and Learn sessions at which we view video lectures related to genomics research and then discuss with faculty members.  Some of our past sessions include:

A video from the NHGRI Genomics and Health Disparities Lecture Series

A Video from the NIH Director’s Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series

A Video from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

Seminars

“Searching for A Cure:  Sickle Cell Disease Gene Editing” – Vence Bonham

Co-sponsored with the Center for Health Equity Research

The National Academies of Sciences 2017 Human Genome Editing Report identified seven principles that should undergird the oversight systems, research surrounding, and eventual clinical uses of human genome editing: (1) promoting well-being, (2) transparency, (3) due care, (4) responsible science, (5) respect for persons, (6) fairness, and (7) transnational cooperation.  Each principle is essential to implementation of somatic genome editing for Sickle Cell Disease. Vence Bonham will examine the principles of fairness and transnational cooperation in the race to develop new curative treatments for sickle cell disease.

The Lecture Capture of the January 30 presentation by Vence Bonham, Jr., J. D. is available at http://go.unc.edu/Pp3e8

 

Human Nature Panel Discussion: Editing Along Ethical Boundaries

Co-sponsored with the Renaissance Computing Initiative (RENCI) and the Program for Precision Medicine in Healthcare (PPMH).

Human Nature tells the story of the biggest tech revolution of the 21st century. A breakthrough called CRISPR has given us unprecedented control over the basic building blocks of life. It opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere, and designing our own children. Human Nature is a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it’s affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits.

Our panel discussion focused on how UNC researchers are leveraging this game-changing technology in their research, how data scientists are powering their breakthroughs, and the ethical implications all must consider. You may find links to view the panel discussion and the documentary film here.

Panelists:

  • Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Stan Ahalt, Director of RENCI
  • Eric Juengst, Director of UNC Center for Bioethics
  • Kimberly Robasky, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Genetics & Head of Translational Science at RENCI

 

Grant Proposal Development Assistance

We have assisted with preparation and submission of R01 grant applications, training grant applications, and supplement requests, including minority supplements.  If you would like to discuss ideas for an application or need assistance writing, please request a consult via the links in the header and footer of this site.

 

Selected CGS Supported Research

Incidental Enhancement: Addressing a Neglected Policy Issue in Human Genome Editing

North Carolina Clinical Genomic Evaluation by Next-generation Exome Sequencing 2 (NCGENES 2)

UNC Program for Precision Medicine in Healthcare – Precision Genomic Screening