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Genomics Soc Policy. 2010;6(3):35-52.

Community engagement in biobanking: Experiences from the eMERGE Network.

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Genomics and Social Science Research, Madison, WI; Institute of Medicine, Washington DC; Center for Human Genetics, Marshfield Clinic; Medical Education and Administration, Vanderbilt University; Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland CA; Department of Bioethics and Humanities, University of Washington.


Advances in genomic technologies and the promise of "personalised medicine" have spurred the interest of researchers, healthcare systems, and the general public. However, the success of population-based genetic studies depends on the willingness of large numbers of individuals and diverse communities to grant researchers access to detailed medical and genetic information. Certain features of this kind of research - such as the establishment of biobanks and prospective data collection from participants' electronic medical records - make the potential risks and benefits to participants difficult to specify in advance. Therefore, community input into biobank processes is essential. In this report, we describe community engagement efforts undertaken by six United States biobanks, various outcomes from these engagements, and lessons learned. Our aim is to provide useful insights and potential strategies for the various disciplines that work with communities involved in biobank-based genomic research.

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