Genomics Forum Blog

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A new year for the Forum and public health genomics

With the completion of another successful APHA meeting, we enter the third official year of the Genomics Forum. First and foremost, there are thanks in order. Jody Platt, now Past Chair, played an integral role in the birth of the Forum and led its expansion to a successful organization of more than 800 members. I was struck this year by the immense presence of genetics and genomics, where little existed as recently as four years ago. The difference is staggering. The challenge before us is to continue the Forum's growth, both in terms of membership and also in collaborations and idea generation.

Truly, we must ask the question, “what is public health genomics?” To answer this question, we need to be good listeners. We must listen to each other, to our colleagues in public health, and to the individuals, families and communities we serve. This will prove to be a year of decision-making for the public health genomics community. With major projects such as GAPPNet and GEDDI laying out paths before us, we must decide what our role will be. The first step must be to take an honest look at our strengths and the challenges before us.

We have many strengths in:
  • Early disease detection and diagnosis
  • Understanding relationships between genetics, lifestyle, and environment
  • Prevention and risk assessment
  • Integration of services

We also have many challenges, such as:
  • Health and risk communication
  • An unclear future of our workforce and competency
  • The relationship between the hype and reality of new technologies
  • Reimbursement and regulation
  • Access to services and disparities

What challenges do you face in your work? Your experience will help guide the direction of our forum and of our work for the year to come.

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