Leading UK biomedical research charity the Wellcome Trust has published a portfolio review reflecting on progress and challenges in human genetics.
The Wellcome Trust spent £740 million on human genetics research between 1990 and 2009, the period covered by the new review, including a major contribution to the Human Genome Project via the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and to genetic epidemiological studies via the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (see previous news).
The review identifies key challenges for future research into human genetics and disease, such as the importance of high quality genetic epidemiology, monogenic and infectious disease studies, investigation of genetic links to phenotype including epigenetic factors, and ethical and social implications. It also calls for:
- Potential engagement with private genomics companies - including providers of personal genomics services - to explore possibilities for research based on their data.
- Involvement of clinicians (including pathologists) in research; establishment of a central UK pathology laboratory is proposed to be beneficial.
- Development of governance frameworks to support open access to genomic data.
- Strategic global partnerships to support the transfer of useful genomic technologies to improve health in emerging economies.
Some of these latter areas beyond basic research represent possible new directions for the Wellcome Trust, and fit closely with the aims and practice of public health genomics, including efforts to promote equitable access to the benefits of genomics for health around the world.