Human Variome Project

Earlier this month, Human Variome Project International Ltd signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding with WHO setting out their formal relationship. At the heart of this agreement lays their collaboration in achieving WHO’s goal:

  • to provide the leadership in global health matters that relate to human genomics, with a particular emphasis on service delivery and safety in low- and middle-income countries.

The public health implications of advances in human genetics and genomics are of increasing importance to all professionals working in the field.

This Memorandum of Understanding gives a new initiative to WHO. While it has always had a small program on genetics and health, focusing mainly on genetic diseases for some time, this new program would  bring a change in focus to the broader issue of human genomics and public health.

The Human Variome Project‘s key contribution will be to give a voice to the various health professionals working in human genetics and genomics.

Human Variome Project

The agreement sets out a number of specific areas for collaboration:

  • Creating a co-ordinated international electronic forum to facilitate discussion and interaction between experts, including health professionals, researchers and academics, on matters related to human genomics, global health and service delivery and safety
  • Organizing international meetings on matters related to human genomics and public health
  • Providing technical and normative expertise on matters related to human genomics and public health

Initially, the issues to be focused on are likely to include:

  • The ethical and regulatory issues arising from international sharing of human genomic and genetic information;
  • The development of cost-effective, safe and quality health services in low/middle income countries arising from the application of innovations in human genetics and genomics to these diseases;
  • The need to build capacity in low/middle income countries to support the delivery of these innovative, cost-effective services;
  • The need to raise awareness in human genomics and genetics among public health officials, particularly in Ministries of Health

To read more about the MoU visit Helen Merrideth Robinson blog post on the topic.