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Improving Diversity of the Genomics Workforce: A Workshop

October 5, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

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The Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health will host a virtual public workshop that will examine the current state of diversity (e.g., racial, ethnic) of the genetics and genomics workforce, structural issues that have contributed to diversity challenges, and potential steps forward. Workshop discussions may address topics such as the impact of racism on the culture of the fields of genetics and genomics; how the genetics/genomics workforce is or is not uniquely affected by structural racism; and the relationship between the lack of diversity in the workforce and patient access to genetic services.

Panelists will be asked to discuss structural challenges impeding workforce diversity in clinical genetics/genomics, current efforts to improve workforce diversity in the field, how those efforts might improve access for patients from underrepresented groups, and opportunities for professional societies and associations to better support the training and integration of providers from diverse backgrounds. A proceedings in brief of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.


The sequencing of the human genome is rapidly opening new doors to research and progress in biology, medicine, and health care. At the same time, these developments have produced a diversity of new issues to be addressed. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has convened a Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health (previously the Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health) that brings together leaders from academia, industry, government, foundations and associations, and representatives of patient and consumer interests who have a mutual concern and interest in addressing the issues surrounding the translation of genome- based research for use in maintaining and improving health. The mission of the Roundtable is to advance the field of genomics and improve the translation of research findings to health care, education, and policy.

The Roundtable will discuss the translation process, identify challenges at various points in the process, and discuss approaches to address those challenges. The field of genomics and its translation involves many disciplines, and takes place within different economic, social, and cultural contexts, necessitating a need for increased communication and understanding across these fields. As a convening mechanism for interested parties from diverse perspectives to meet and discuss complex issues of mutual concern in a neutral setting, the Roundtable: fosters dialogue across sectors and institutions; illuminates issues, but does not necessarily resolve them; and fosters collaboration among stakeholders. To achieve its objectives, the Roundtable conducts structured discussions, workshops, and symposia. Workshop summaries will be published and collaborative efforts among members are encouraged (e.g., journal articles).

Specific issues and agenda topics are determined by the Roundtable membership, and span a broad range of issues relevant to the translation process. Issues may include the integration and coordination of genomic information into health care and public health including encompassing standards for genetic screening and testing, improving information technology for use in clinical decision making, ensuring access while protecting privacy, and using genomic information to reduce health disparities. The patient and family perspective on the use of genomic information for translation includes social and behavioral issues for target populations. There are
evolving requirements for the health professional community, and the need to be able to understand and responsibly apply genomics to medicine and public health.

Of increasing importance is the need to identify the economic implications of using genome-based research for health. Such issues include incentives, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.

Issues related to the developing science base are also important in the translation process. Such issues could include studies of gene-environment interactions, as well as the implications of genomics for complex disorders such as addiction, mental illness, and chronic diseases.

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October 5, 2021
12:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT
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National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
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