genomics

DNAdigest interviews Personal Genome Project: UK

Today we begin the series of interviews about Personal Genome Projects and this interview is with Professor Stephan Beck who is leading Personal Genome Project: UK. Please introduce yourself. What is PGP in general and how is PGP-UK different? I am a Professor of Medical Genomics at the UCL Cancer Institute and the Director of Personal Genome Project: UK (PGP-UK). My academic group is involved in projects investigating genomics and epigenomics of phenotypic plasticity in health and disease. We are a systems epigenomics group that is interested broadly in all aspects of it. PGP-UK is a member of the Global PGP Network which currently includes four PGPs. The first one was founded by George Church in 2005 at Harvard University, then in 2012 Stephen Scherer started PGP-Canada in Toronto. In 2013, we launched PGP-UK at UCL. In 2014, PGP-Austria was launched by Christoph Bock in Vienna. These are the four projects that are currently active. There is a number of projects that are being planned and some of them are very close to actually launching as well but that will be announced when they are ready. What was the motivation to start the very first one? What was the aim […]

DNAdigest interviews the open study “Genes for Good”

Scott Vrieze, External Collaborator at Genes for Good 1. What is Genes for Good? Genes for Good is a research study led by Dr. Goncalo Abecasis at the University of Michigan, with the goal of discovering genes that affect risk for physical and mental health. Making these discoveries benefits from very large numbers of participants who are continually engaged with the study over time. To do this, we have created a Facebook App (apps.facebook.com/ genesforgood) where individuals may sign up, answer questions about their health and habits, and provide a saliva sample. DNA in the saliva will then be genotyped and tested for association with the health information. This kind of study has been quite successful in finding risk genes for a wide variety of diseases, and Genes for Good will continue this tradition, hopefully on a larger scale with many tens of thousands of participants.   2. What is your role in the Genes for Good study and how does your professional background fit? Genes for Good is intended to be an open platform. Researchers who are interested in contributing can very easily do so. I am a clinical psychologist interested in mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and […]

Genomic Data

Genomic Data Sharing – Ethical and Scientific Imperative

This is a guest blog post writen by Mahsa Shabani (@Mahsashabani). Genomic data sharing has become an ethical and scientific imperative in the recent years. Funding organizations, research institutes and journals among others, endorsed the significance of data sharing practices to the progress of research and an optimal use of community resources. Consequently, researchers all around the world are extensively involved in the data sharing process, ranging from data production to data use. As sharing practices do involve individuals’ data, the associated ethical and legal concerns should receive thorough attention in order to respect individuals’ rights and maintain public trust. Sharing data via controlled-access public databases has been seen as an answer to the identified concerns at the moment. Data Access Committees (DACs) constructed locally or in a central fashion control access to these datasets according to defined criteria. Evaluating the qualification/eligibility of data users, ethical and scientific grounds of proposed uses and oversight on downstream data uses are considered as the main responsibilities of DACs. While the structure, membership and procedure of access review vary across DACs, some similarities in approaches and mechanisms are observed. A requirement of preparing a summary of data use and signing a data access agreement […]

Anna Middleton

Involving participants in genomics research

Guest post by Dr Anna Middleton, Senior Staff Scientist, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. This blog post was originally published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The blog post is based on the talk Dr Middleton gave at the launch of the Council’s report: The collection, linking and use of data in biomedical research and health care: ethical issues. My career has explored, from multiple different perspectives, the impact of genomics on people. Genomics refers to the study of a person’s 20,000 or so genes. Given the almost infinite ways that people can be genetically different to each other, genomic research often needs to be done on a very large scale in order to be able to interpret the significance of findings, particularly a rare genetic change. So, Big Data and Genomics go hand in hand. To give you an example, I’m currently part of the Deciphering Developmental Disorders (DDD) project at the Sanger Institute which seeks to offer cutting edge genomic testing to 12,000 children from the NHS with severe, complex, physical and/or intellectual disability. These children have exceptionally rare conditions that their doctors may never have seen before. Using an online database that contains large sets of health and biological […]

Tony Calland

Trust Transparency Must Underpin Technological Change

Guest post by Dr Tony Calland, Joint Vice Chair, Health Research Authority (HRA) Confidentiality Advisory Group. This blog post was originally published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and it is based on the talk Dr Calland gave at the launch of the Council’s report: The collection, linking and use of data in biomedical research and health care: ethical issues. The UK is very fortunate to have a well constructed digital medical record system covering all of the 60 million citizens in these islands. The computerised GP record holds many treasures, some yet undiscovered, recognising new associations between medical conditions or events which will enhance our understanding of disease and treatment.The Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) database similarly holds a wealth of information. The power that can be generated by linking just these two is very considerable indeed, let alone linkage between many other databases, medical and non medical. The value of this is twofold: it offers the ability to develop medical advances in diagnosis, treatment and innovation, as well as creating a huge commercial opportunity to increase the wealth of the country hopefully for the benefit of all. However, to be able to utilise this national resource our communications and […]

The Patient Charter

Genome sequencing: What do patients think?

Guest post by Alice Hazelton from the Genetic Alliance UK Genomic information has the potential to transform healthcare. Researchers are continually learning more about the genome and the genetic basis of disease and as the cost of genome sequencing technologies and analytics tools decrease, more and more research will become possible. This will help us to achieve a greater understanding of how our genes affect our health and develop new diagnostic tools, screening methods and treatments for some conditions. The sharing of patient data will play a crucial role in this. Whenever the sharing of patient data is discussed, public debate ensues over concerns about data security, privacy and access. But little work has been done to establish what patients, as the end-beneficiaries of medical research, think about sharing data. Through an online engagement project, ‘My Condition, My DNA’, Genetic Alliance UK sought the views of patients affected by rare and genetic conditions, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, on genome sequencing. Four sessions including text, podcasts, videos and questions were distributed to patients over the course of four weeks, allowing them to take part in their own homes at a time convenient for them. One of these sessions was about the use […]

precision medicine

Data Sharing Needs to Happen

President Barack Obama used some of his State of the Union oratory to lay out a grand vision for “precision medicine” and announce an initiative to realize it.  I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine—one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. This initiative is aiming to provide US citizens with access to the personalized information to direct treatments and healthcare, including genomic medicine.  The announcement brought up lots of discussions among professionals interested in the topic.Colin Hill, co-founder and CEO of GNS Healthcare, a company specializing in precision analytics commented: It’s “about time” for the government to push precision medicine. But there is a risk. Money does a lot of things in spurring research and development. But genomics data needs to be married to real-world impact data. There’s more data sharing that needs to happen! You can take a closer look at the press release article here.

Human Variome Project

Human Variome Project signs MoU with WHO

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. 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 […]

Data Sharing Game

Research Data Sharing Game

As we all know the reuse of research data definitely benefits the scientific community as a whole, but the decision whether to archive and share these data or not depend primarily on individual researchers. For individuals, it is less obvious that the advantages of sharing data outweigh the associated costs, i.e. time and money. In this sense, the problem of data sharing is like a typical game in interactive decision theory, more commonly known as game theory. By definition, game theory is a study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. An obvious assumption herein is that an individual will always try to maximize his or her gains relative to the gains of others. In the paper “A Research Data Sharing Game” Pronk et al create a framework in order to investigate the community gains versus the advantages of the individual researcher in the competitive world of scientific research.  For the analysis, they have designed a simple model of a scientific community where researchers publish a certain amount of papers in a given year and have the choice either to share or not. Via this model, the effect of sharing policies, exploration of several cost scenarios, […]

DNAdigest Interviews Saudi Human Genome Project

DNAdigest readers, this week I am happy to present you to the Saudi Human Genome Project (SHGP). Our interviewee is Shazia Naz Subhani, who is the project manager. Take a look at what exactly this interesting project is all about and how this will benefit the healthcare system in the Saudi Arabia Kingdom. Shazia Naz Subhani, Senior Technical Specialist and Project Manager of the Saudi Human Genome Program 1. Could you please explain what the Saudi Human Genome Project is about? The Saudi Human Genome Projects is a specific effort to solve genetic disease in the Kingdom, to lay the foundation for the development of Personalized Medicine and establish capacity for the Genomics industry more broadly. This is envisioned as a 5 year project to find the genes responsible for the genetic diseases that impact the Kingdom, by reading (often called “sequencing”) the genomes of 100,000 subjects, representing both the general population, and all rare and common diseases with a genetic component. This will be one of the largest disease gene discovery project ever undertaken, and will therefore also establish the Kingdom as a world leader in disease genetics research and Personalized Medicine. This project will be funded and organized by the King […]

Hamza

Hamza Wahid presented his DNAdigest research project

Nuffield Research Placements (previously Nuffield Science Bursaries) provide over 1,000 students each year with the opportunity to work by the side of professional scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. And this is exactly how our team met Hamza, a Sixth Form student at the Perse School in Cambridge, with an interest in molecular biology and genetics, studying Biology, Chemistry, Double Maths and Philosophy. Over the summer Hamza worked at DNAdigest as a part of the Nuffield Student Research Placement on the Genomic Data Sharing Project where his main task was assisting with the ongoing User Interaction Research. The aim of the project was to investigate how people working with human genetics access, use and store genetic data, how they share it or make it publicly available. During his work with our team, Hamza managed to successfully complete 9 face-to-face interviews with people that work with human genomic data from various different fields as well as help out with the completion of an online survey which was also important for the project. On the 23rd of October, Hamza presented a poster on the Genomic Data Sharing project at the Nuffield Celebration Event Gold CREST Awards, where Nuffield students report how their experience […]

Pistoia Alliance

Webinar: Genomics, Pharmaceutical R&D and Healthcare

As various genomics initiatives have promised to revolutionize healthcare for over 20 years, it is important to ask whether these have had the impact they were expected to make, and how we might take greater advantage of the technology available. The Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance of life science companies, vendors, publishers, and academic groups that work together to lower barriers to innovation in R&D, is hosting a ‘Pistoia Alliance Debates’ webinar which will look at whether the economic, technical and regulatory barriers have been addressed, and how to overcome any that may remain. The webinar will see Gordon Baxter, CSO at Instem, chair a panel comprised of experts in the field including Abel Ureta-Vidal, CEO at Eagle Genomics, Fiona Nielsen, CEO at DNA Digest, Dan Housman, Director at ConvergeHealth by Deloitte, and Etzard Stolte, former CIO of the Jackson Laboratory. As well as exploring the remaining obstacles to greater adoption of genomics technology in healthcare, the panel will look at the success of recent genomics initiatives, the impact they have had, and will consider what future genomic innovation may bring to the industry. Following the discussion, webinar attendees will be able to ask questions of the panel. You […]

symposium

DNAdigest Symposium 2014 Summary

This past weekend, DNAdigest organized a Symposium on the topic “Open Science in human genomics research – challenges and inspirations”. The event brought together very interested in the topic and enthusiastic people along with the DNAdigest team. We are very pleased to say that this day turned out to be a success, where both participants and organizers enjoyed the amazing talks of our speaker and the discussion sessions. The day started with a short introduction on the topic by Fiona Nielsen. Then our first speaker, Manuel Corpas was a source of inspiration to all participants, talking us through the process he experienced in order to fully sequence the whole genomes of his family and himself and to share this data widely with the whole world.  Here is a link to the presentation he introduced on the day. The Symposium was organized in the format of Open Space conference, where everybody got to suggest different topics related to Open Science or choose to join one which sounds most interesting. Again, we used HackPad to take notes and interesting thoughts throughout the discussions. You can take a look at it here. We had three more speakers invited to our Symposium: Tim Hubbard (slides) talked about how Genomics […]

Best practices for Genomic analysis

Nowadays, rare genetic variants begin to be discovered more and more often. And still no clear guidelines for distinguishing disease-causing sequence variants from the many potentially functional variants present in any human genome are available. Without accurate standards an acceleration of false-positive reports of causality is at a high probability, therefore obstructing the translation of genomic research findings into clinical diagnostics setting and hinder biological understanding of disease. So what are the best practices for genomic analysis? In the paper Guidelines for investigating causality of sequence variants in human disease D. G. MacArthur et al discuss the primary challenges of assessing sequence variants in human disease, integrating both gene-level and variant-level support for causality and introduce guidelines for summarizing in variant pathogenicity and highlight several areas that require further resource development. For us the most interesting part of the paper is the emphasis on the value of sharing sequence and phenotype data from clinical and research samples to the fullest possible extent. D. G. MacArthur team recognises that many investigators and research funders look at data sharing as a moral and professional imperative, nevertheless, sharing of sequence data among testing laboratories has often been blocked, so that many potentially pathogenic […]

symposium

Open Science in human genomics research

UPDATE: only few tickets left – do not forget to register https://dnadigestsym2014.eventbrite.co.uk This November 22nd, DNAdigest is organizing a collaborative symposium. The topic of the event will be “Open Science in human genomics research – challenges and inspirations”. It will take place at the Future Business Centre, Cambridge. You can take a look at this map for directions. At this upcoming collaborative symposium, we will introduce topics like open science, access to sequencing data, privacy concerns around human genomic data, etc., and the schedule of the day will be prepared as a combination of short presentations from invited speakers followed by interactive discussion groups. Join us at the Symposium by signing up here.   You can look forward to inspirational talks to spur excitement and discussions: Manuel Corpas, will talk about how he as a citizen scientist has crowdfunded and crowdsourced the analysis of his personal genome. Linda Briceno, will share her thoughts on legal and ethical implications of data sharing in genomics. Nick Sireau, will talk about how scientists and patients can engage in collaborations, and how Open Science may be either beneficial or challenging in this context. Tim Hubbard, will present how Genomics England is engaging the research community in the 100k […]

DNAdigest interviews SolveBio

DNAdigest continues with the series of interviews. Here we would like to introduce you to Mr Mark Kaganovich, CEO of SolveBio, who agreed on an interview with us. He shared a lot about what SolveBio does and discussed with us the importance of genomic data sharing. Mark Kaganovich, CEO of SolveBio Could you describe what SolveBio does? SolveBio delivers the critical reference data used by hospitals and companies to run genomic applications. These applications use SolveBio’s data to predict the effects of slight DNA variants on a person’s health. SolveBio has designed a secure platform for the robust delivery of complex reference datasets. We make the data easy to access so that our customers can focus on building clinical grade molecular diagnostics applications, faster.   How did you come up with the idea of building a system that integrates genomic reference data into diagnostic and research applications? And what was the crucial moment when you realised the importance of creating it? As a graduate student I spent a lot of time parsing, re-formatting, and integrating data just to answer some basic questions in genomics. At the same time (this was about two years ago) it was becoming clear that genomics was going […]

data accessibility

DNAdigest published: A Focus on Data Accessibility

The DNAdigest team is very happy to announce that our paper ‘The need to redefine genomic data sharing: A focus on data accessibility‘ has been published in the special issue of the Journal of Applied and Translational Genomics as an open access publication. At DNAdigest, we are aiming to improve the shared amount of genomic data which current state is far from sufficient. Believing is not enough in this case so it was important for us to get some real numbers! We interviewed genetics researchers and ran an online survey in order to find out how much and in what way genomic data is being shared.   Through those in-depth contextual interviews along the online survey, we have managed to assess the state of genomic data sharing. Our finding showed that, although the procedures that researchers follow differ among universities, industry and clinics, there are still many common steps in their workflows. Unsurprisingly, most of the researchers agreed that they do not share enough data and would like this situation to change. If you want to take a look at what else we have discovered, be welcome to read the whole article: T v Schaik et al, The need to […]

DNAdigest interviews Aridhia

As promised last week in the DNAdigest’s newsletter, we are giving life to our first blog post interview. Be introduced to Mr Rodrigo Barnes, part of the Aridia team. He kindly agreed to answer our questions about Aridhia and their views on genomic data sharing.  Mr Rodrigo Barnes, CTO of Aridhia 1. You are a part of the Aridhia team. Please, tell us what the goals and the interests of the company are? Aridhia started with the objective of using health informatics and analytics to improve efficiency and service delivery for healthcare providers, support the management of chronic disease and personalised medicine, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Good outcomes had already started to emerge in diabetes and other chronic diseases, through some of the work undertaken by the NHS in Scotland and led by one of our founders, Professor Andrew Morris. This included providing clinicians and patients with access to up-to-date, rich information from different parts of the health system. Aridhia has since developed new products and services to solve informatics challenges in the clinical and operational aspects of health. As a commercial organisation, we have worked on these opportunities in collaboration with healthcare providers, universities, innovation centres and other […]

dbGaP Improves Access for Individual-Level Genomic Data

“dbGaP Collection: Compilation of Individual-Level Genomic Data for General Research Use” is a new data set collection that is expected to become a very useful tool for researchers. Due to many requests from the scientific community, the NIH brought into play a change in the procedures for accessing aggregate-level data. Most of the dbGaP studies have considerable fraction of participants who consented for “General Research use” (GRU) NIH have recognized and acknowledged those consents to be essentially the same, even though the individuals participated in different studies. As a result this collection was created allowing users to obtain the data. Furthermore, in order to make the process of requesting access less painful and faster, it will be reviewed by a single, central Data Access Committee and users can gain entry through a single access request. The process is identical to those for individual-level, controlled-access data and you can find the instructions for requesters here. Investigators being authorized for access to the datasets within the collection will have the standard one-year approval period. In the meantime, one can choose to use data only from some individuals, but will still have access to all of the information. Additionally, the datasets are going to be updated […]

Survey: Genomic Data Access and Sharing

How do you make genomic data available? Genomic research is progressing more rapidly than ever before, as are the workflow habits and preferences of researchers. The question regarding the sharing of genetic data is the one that we at the DNAdigest team are trying very hard to answer. In order to gain an insight in to how researchers access and share genomic data, we have launched a survey that will ultimately further our aim of advancing genomic research by promoting efficient and ethical data sharing. So if you are a researcher who uses human genomic data and you are directly affected by the difficulties of accessing and sharing this data, it will be highly appreciated if you take part in DNAdigest’s survey. You can also have a say here and help us find out what the biggest problems regarding it are. DNAdigest Survey is online now! The Survey has a unique functionality which will allow you to go through it very quickly. It will not take more than 4-5 minutes of your time for filling it in. The outcomes will be published and shared with genomic research community, but your individual responses will be kept confidential. Thank you a lot in advance for your responses! Your participation is […]

Genomic Privacy: the Rise of New Research Community

 Genomic Privacy and the Rise of a New Research Community When genomic is mentioned, most people think about huge, heavily-funded international consortia, such as the Human Genome Project. Nowadays, sequencing platforms are readily available meaning that individual labs can actually sequence whole genomes (Whole Genome Sequencing or WGS). For the research in genomics, collecting of a large number of digitalized genomes is of a great importance. As the prices of full sequencing goes down the personalised medicine becomes more and more popular. Of course, the availability of this data will help clinicians run complex tests regarding a patient in a matter of seconds. However, there are issues regarding the privacy due to the unprecedented sensitivity of the genomic data. Lots of funding agencies have now introduced requirements for data sharing while the Personal Genome Project intent to create a dataset of volunteers’ sequenced genomes and make it public for research purposes. However, there are a lot of arguments whether this should be done. Recently Erman Ayday and colleagues created an article stating that the consequences of genomic data disclosure aren’t limited in time and also it reveals a huge amount of information about one’s relatives due to its hereditary nature. This means that […]

Padlock holding blue doors shut

Data Hoarding Kills

It may seem dramatic but data hoarding really does kill, as more and more findings show. Fast technological advances should mean faster research, faster diagnoses and faster cures. But data hoarding is slowing this process down and preventing these technological advances from having the efficient and effective results that they should. As recode.net reports, huge research institutions – from IBM to UC Berkeley –  are backing artificial intelligence and big data to develop better treatments for genetic disease. But while data hoarding continues to be common practice in research these computational tools can only produce limited results. To harness the power of these computation tools we need to open up data. The regulations need to move with the technology. Through innovative solutions data can be kept secure and anonymous without being locked away and untouchable. The consequences of data hoarding are real. Lives will be saved with improved data access. Much of the research is already out there, and the technology to quickly analyse hundreds of thousands of clinical trials and genomic data is fast being developed. Yet accessing the data remains a problem. And its one that we need to solve. Read the full story on recode.net here.  

Report: Changing Cultures To Support Data Access

This May the Wellcome Trust published a report from the Expert Advisory Group on Data Access (EAGDA). ‘Establishing Incentives and Changing Cultures to Support Data Access’ is a report which aimed to understand the factors which affect the ease with which individual researchers can make their data available to other researchers. Read the full report and you will see that it echoes earlier research in the area and highlights a key issue: data sharing is not yet being given the status it deserves. As stated under the reports ‘key findings’ “the infrastructures needed to support researchers in data management and sharing, and to ensure the long-term preservation and curation of data, are often lacking (both at an institutional and a community level)”. Data sharing continues to be a major subject of debate and through such debate and investigation the need for to improve the infrastructure of data sharing, to widen and better the data sharing that exists, is continually emphasised. The results of this report show that need for clear and updated policy is real. Data sharing in research is not something that can be ignored. It has already taken a hold in genomics and through collaboration we can really […]

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