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Trends Mol Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):702-8. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2012.08.003. Epub 2012 Sep 21.

Ethical genetic research in Indigenous communities: challenges and successful approaches.

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Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0811, Australia.


Indigenous populations, in common with all populations, stand to benefit from the potential of genetic research to lead to improvements in diagnostic and therapeutic tools for a wide range of complex diseases. However, many Indigenous communities, especially ones that are isolated, are not included in genetic research efforts. This situation is largely a consequence of the challenges of ethically conducting genetic research in Indigenous communities and compounded by Indigenous peoples' negative past experiences with genetic issues. To examine ways of addressing these challenges, we review one investigation of a cancer cluster in remote Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land, Australia. Our experiences demonstrate that genetic research can be both ethically and successfully conducted with Indigenous communities by respecting the authority of the community, involving community members, and including regular community review throughout the research process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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