Public Release: 

GA4GH 5th Plenary Meeting

Francis Collins and Harold Varmus to discuss international open science at global summit on the future of genomic data-sharing

Global Alliance for Genomics and Health

Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Harold Varmus, former Director of the NIH and of the National Cancer Institute, will discuss the importance of international open science in a joint keynote address at the 5th Plenary Meeting of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) in Orlando, Florida, USA on 17 October 2017. The event is an official ancillary meeting to the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, where GA4GH will also be an exhibitor.

By 2022, genomic and health-related data on tens of millions of individuals, spanning many national and ethnic origins, will have been generated in both research and healthcare settings. This presents huge opportunities for improving human health and medicine. But success depends on the scientific community getting responsible data sharing right--and doing so now.

GA4GH was founded in 2014 to achieve just that. It aims to advance human health and medicine through effective, responsible sharing of genomic and health-related data. Its nearly 500 member organizations and 1000+ individual volunteers have delivered a data-sharing toolkit that is now ready for use. The toolkit includes a series of APIs and standardized file formats that make data discoverable across institutions, and interoperable between different software systems. It also features templates for framing regulatory and ethics policies, drawing on GA4GH's human-rights-based Framework for Responsible Sharing of Genomic and Health-Related Data. GA4GH is actively working to ensure its tools are adopted by important genomic data initiatives throughout the world in order to enable viable, responsible genomic and health related data sharing by 2022.

Recent calls for maximising the potential of genomic data through international collaboration have brought fresh attention to this conversation as national initiatives such as Genomics England in the UK and the All of Us Research Program in the US emerge. More than a dozen world-leading genomic data initiatives such as these will be announced as "GA4GH Driver Projects" at the October plenary meeting. These formal partnerships will help define, develop, and implement critical tools for data sharing.

The Driver Projects are part of a new, five-year GA4GH Strategic Plan that will include organizational changes and a timeline of deliverables that will enable practical data sharing by 2022. The Strategic Plan will launch at the GA4GH 5th Plenary, which will also feature short presentations from participants, patients, clinicians, and world leaders in genomics speaking on the importance of responsible data sharing and the new direction of the GA4GH.


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