16 May 2005
The US National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) recently announced the formation of a new Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB), due to open in January 2005 as part of the new Social and Behavioral Science Center (see press release). The centre is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) collaborative venture between the NHGRI, National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Dr Colleen McBride, currently director of the Cancer Prevention, Detection and Control research programme at Duke University in North Carolina, will head both the centre and the SBRB.
The Social and Behavioral Research Branch will seek ways in which to translate information from the human genome into clinical practice, including appropriate interventions to promote health and prevent disease, as well as investigating the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic research. Research will also focus on developing suitable strategies to counsel patients with genetic disorders and their families, including communication of individual risks of developing or passing on a genetic condition. Units within the SBRB will include groups in community and behavioral genetics, health communication and promotion, genetic counselling and ethics and social policy. Underlining the importance of the interdisciplinary approaches to address the complex needs and issues arising from the new genomic era of medicine, Dr McBride commented: "Many perspectives will be needed to translate human genome discoveries into interventions that can address public health problems such as obesity".