Genomics Forum Blog

Monday, December 14, 2009


The Annual APHA meeting is one of my favorite times of year. It is by all accounts the time that – ready or not- we get to look back to see how far we’ve come, and aspire towards new goals for the future. While we are still a young, loosely-knit, organization with unmet goals, we’ve come a long way. We’ve grown exponentially, our program is unique among genetics and public health conferences bringing together diverse presentations, scholars, practitioners, and stakeholders, and we have a good time. Dean has recently posted two blogs to this site that adeptly speak to this looking ahead and looking behind that comes this time of year. Adding to that, whether you participated this year in person, by phone, or in spirit, Thank you.

On a personal note, I’d also like to thank you for providing me the opportunity to Chair this group for the past two years. I often get caught at the end of a Forum conference call saying that “This committee, or this type of call, or the people on the call, are my favorites...” While logically, this can never be (there can be only one favorite), it’s a true statement nonetheless. The Forum is (one of) my favorite(s) because of the members, because of you.

Another reason I’m so fond of the Genomics Forum is that it is a space to develop what an acquaintance of mine once called the ultimate skill in public health: The ability to speak with and to the head, the heart and the pocket. I believe the Forum membership does just that – From the head, we are deep in the knowledge and intricacies of genomics and public health having members who study and work in genetic epidemiology, behavioral sciences, genetics education, public health practice, nursing, and medicine (just to name a few).

And we know the language of the heart: Debbie Klein-Walker, a past-president of APHA, and supporter of the Forum as it was being officially reviewed by the APHA governing bodies, described APHA as a volunteer organization of many passions making it at once a vibrant and exciting place to be, as well as challenging waters to navigate. The Forum, happily, is one of those passionate groups adding vibrancy to the world’s largest and oldest public health professionals organization. Over the past two years I have heard from many of you about where your passions lie – in your concerns and hopes for what genomics and public health might do together, in your drive towards assuring genomics helps in eliminating health disparities, in a diverse and competent public health genomics workforce, in policy development that supports the vision of public health of healthy people in healthy communities.

And, thankfully, we are a group that has a commitment towards looking into our pockets to bring what we can to the table. Whether you have reviewed abstracts, led a working group or committee, sent an email to find out what exactly it is that we do, or are still hoping to find some time for the Forum later this year, it all contributes to where we are, and where we might end up at this time next year. And the year after that.

I’m looking forward to what our heads, our hearts, and our pockets come up with next.

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