WHO grand challenges in genomics for developing countries

8 June 2011

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a new project to identify the leading priorities for genomics to address important public health issues in developing countries.
These top ten ‘Grand Challenges’ will be the foremost policy and research priorities for ensuring that genomics is harnessed effectively for maximum public health benefit in developing countries. Suggestions are to be identified via consultation with ‘leading international scientific and public health experts’ and the shortlist assessed by a Scientific Board according to criteria relating to likely feasibility and impact for each proposal.
The final top ten will be presented to WHO Member States in 2012 to guide countries' research and public health strategies on genomics to improve public health’.
Comment: It is a common misconception that genomics has nothing to offer low and middle-income countries with much more limited health resources. In fact, genomics can sometimes offer new and more cost-effective solutions to major health problems, whether via ‘leapfrog’ technologies, or new ways of using existing genomics knowledge in a different environment.

As a leading world centre for public health genomics, the PHG Foundation is delighted to form part of the Scientific Board for this WHO initiative, and looks forward with great interest to moving towards realising genuine genomics-driven solutions to developing world health problems. 

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