The GS Unit, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s science and technology research grant program, was set up to actively promote communication and contact between the genomic sciences and the general public. Our goal at the GS Unit is to provide ELSI support for researchers in human genomics and applied fields, and to ensure that the developments of this work benefit people and society at large.
Researchers selected for the Platform for Advanced Genome Science must first draw up a research plan. They then have to present this plan to the research ethics review board at their institutions. To obtain approval from the board, researchers must gather information from collaborators, provide further details about their research plans, and fill in many application forms and agreements. This process can take a tremendous amount of time to complete. Furthermore, as this process must follow legal and ministry guidelines, when these latter are amended or changed, it can be difficult to adapt the approval process in a timely manner.
One of our aims in the GS Unit is to streamline the ethical review process by creating websites and electronic databases where all of the necessary information is organized so that it can be easily accessed by researchers.
To understand how genomic research should proceed and develop within today’s society, it is important to take into account a variety of opinions from all affected parties (stakeholders) and engage in discussions about the future of this field. The GS Unit has identified five central themes to be addressed in such forums as genomic research talk sessions, newspaper and magazine articles, Q&A forms, and so on. Using these platforms, we hope to increase and deepen communication between researchers and the public.
We will aid researchers working in the Platform for Advanced Genome Science program by providing them with relevant information concerning institutions running official databases—both within Japan and abroad—as well as information about genomic medicine research projects.