Framework for ethical self-assessment in genomic research

PhD students are expected to reflect on ethical aspects of their research projects. This requirement is stated in legal premises and regulatory frameworks for academic institutions around the world. When applying for research funding researchers are also expected to make an ethical assessment related to their proposed research project.

Decorative image of DNA

There is a risk that this assessment becomes a one-time event, maybe just ticking some pre- and generally defined boxes. Ethics as a fait accompli, rather than as a continuous reflection about one’s research as science develops and societies change.

In trying to bring research ethics back to its roots, as a matter for self-reflection by scientists themselves and their communities, the SIENNA project has developed an ethical framework for research on human genomics. The full report has been submitted to the European Commission for review.

Mats Hansson, & Solveig Fenet-Chantereau, SIENNA D2.7 Proposal for an ethical framework for the assessment of genomics technologies and for research in genetics and genomics. Submitted public deliverable from the SIENNA project, awaiting approval from the European Commission

Next steps

This work will be translated to operational guidelines for ethical self-assessment of research in genetics and genomics. We suggest it to be used by researchers at all levels, from graduate to senior researchers and for funding agencies. The guidelines will go through a process of public consultation in January 2021.

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