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Genet Med. 2012 Feb;14(2):243-9. doi: 10.1038/gim.2011.29. Epub 2012 Jan 19.

Enhancing geneticists' perspectives of the public through community engagement.

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  • 1Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



Given the rapid pace of genetic and genomic research and technology development, public engagement on scientific issues may be mutually beneficial to the research community and the general public. The public may benefit from a greater understanding of concepts and new applications, and researchers can build awareness of public knowledge, perceptions, and potential concerns about genomic research and applications.


We developed and piloted a public engagement program called Genome Diner to facilitate dialog between genetic/genomic researchers (n = 40) and middle school students (n = 76) and their parents (n = 83) from the local community. Program impact was assessed through pre- and post-Diner surveys for each group.


After participation in Genome Diner, researchers' views were positively affected regarding the (adult) public's level of understanding of genetic concepts, beliefs about relevance of research, and the importance of researcher-community interaction.


Through an interactive discussion with students and parents, researchers gained valuable insight into public perspectives about genome research. The engagement format of the Genome Diner program presents a novel method of fostering trust and relationships between the two groups and to inform both the public and the researchers, whose work may depend on public opinion and participation.

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