Since 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has strongly encouraged many studies to submit genetic information to the federal database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP). The reason is that genomic research on large numbers of people can yield insights that aren't possible with smaller numbers.
For new studies that will enroll participants prospectively, informed consent canand shouldaddress such sharing. But sharing genetic data raises ethical questions for longitudinal cohort studies, including ACT, which started long before dbGaP was established in 2006. Few existing informed consents address data sharing through this new mechanism. Ideally, Dr. Ludman suggested, research grants would include funding and time to pursue reconsent. In this study, it cost around $50 for each participant who was asked.
"Trust is a two-way street, and human research requires lots of trust," Dr. Ludman said. "People have an understandable feeling of ownership over their bodies and medical records, including their genetic information," she added. "Researchers show we're worthy of trust when we ask research participants for permission to use their information in a way that they haven't already agreed to."
Recent high-profile legal cases have highlighted the issue of consent and trust in research, including the Havasupai tribe vs. Arizona State University and parents vs. the Texas health department over storing newborn blood samples without parental consent. So too has the bestselling book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, about the history surrounding the HeLa cell line, the world's most widely grown human cells.
|Contact: Rebecca Hughes|
Group Health Research Institute