Extending the reach of public health genomics: What should be the agenda for public health in an era of genome-based and "personalized" medicine?

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The decade following the completion of the Human Genome Project has been marked by divergent claims about the utility of genomics for improving population health. On the one hand, genomics is viewed as the harbinger of a brave new world in which novel treatments rectify known causes of disease. On the other hand, genomics may have little practical relevance to the principal causes or remedies of diseases which are predominantly social or environmental in origin, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Those supportive of a role for public health genomics argue that increasing knowledge of genomics and molecular pathology could unlock effective diagnostic techniques and treatments, and better target public health interventions. To resolve some of these tensions, an international multidisciplinary meeting was held in May 2010 in Ickworth, United Kingdom, with the aim of setting an agenda for the development of public health in an era of genome-based and "personalized" medicine. A number of key themes emerged, suggesting a need to reconfigure both the focus for existing genomic research and the stage at which funding is targeted, so that priority is given to areas of greatest potential health impact and that translation from basic science to implementation is given greater emphasis. To support these developments, there should be an immediate, sustained and systematic effort to provide an evidence base. These deliberations formed the basis for six key recommendations, which could guide the practice of public health in an era of genomics and personalized medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-791
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • public health
  • genomics
  • global health
  • ethics
  • translation
  • research priorities


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