The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is a membership organization that includes multidisciplinary professionals with a common interest in the field of human genetics. Society members contribute to the advancement of science for the benefit of health and society.

The Code of Ethics provides an ethical framework for members, especially as they work to further the aims of ASHG. Members act in a manner consistent with the good reputation of the Society. Members do not represent the Society as such. This Code of Ethics does not replace the ethical or legal obligations of individual members as set by other professional bodies, employers, or law.

Advancement of Science

Members advance both fundamental and applied knowledge in human genetics for the benefit of the public.

  • Improvement of Health Care
    Promote the health of the public, through the advancement of human genetic research and the provision of high quality genetic services conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards.
     
  • Training
    Educate employees, students, and professionals to follow responsible research practices and provide high quality genetic services, consistent with the highest ethical standards. Treat trainees with respect and provide them with opportunities for professional growth and development.
     
  • Collaboration
    Share knowledge in research, practice, and ethics through publication, professional meetings and conferences, and foster collaborations. Meet applicable ethical and legal standards while collaborating.
  • Public education
    Foster public understanding of the nature and objectives of human genetics consistent with open and responsible use of human genetic findings in science and health care.

Integrity

Members comply with the highest ethical standards such as honesty and courtesy. They conduct themselves with appropriate behavior and attitudes.

  • Maintain professional competence
    Advance their knowledge and understanding of new scientific developments and emerging areas of practice through ongoing education and training.
     
  • Respect professional Codes of Ethics
    Abide by the prevailing ethical and legal norms of their profession.
     
  • Objectivity
    Strive for objectivity in their professional activities through recognition, acknowledgment, and mitigation of intentional and unintentional biases.
     
  • Accountability
    Act responsibly toward colleagues, government, corporate sponsors, the wider health care community and the public at large. Build public trust through accountability.
     
  • Collegiality
    Treat colleagues and researchers with respect and courtesy, based on principles of equality and mutual respect for those with differing worldviews or from different cultures. Share research results and ideas honestly, giving proper credit for others' contributions to their work.

Privacy

Members strive to protect the privacy of individuals, families, and communities and maintain the confidentiality and security of genetic information and biospecimens.

  • Confidentiality
    Respect the confidential nature of all medical information and research data entrusted to them. Disclose personal health information with proper and specific authority through the consent of the individual or where there is a legal, ethical or professional right or duty to disclose.
     
  • Storage and security
    Follow best practices and abide by applicable laws in creating, storing, accessing, transferring, and disposing of personal health information and biospecimens.

Transparency

Members act fairly and provide complete, accurate and timely information to their colleagues, to the public, and to the media.

  • Professionalism
    Claim expertise only in fields where they have the necessary depth of knowledge, especially when interacting with patients, or contributing to public discussion or policy debate. Do not make statements that are false, deceptive, or fraudulent concerning research, practice, or other work activities, or those of persons or groups with whom they are affiliated. Present personal opinions as such and not as those of the Society.
     
  • Conflicts of interest
    Disclose any potential conflicts of interest. Safeguard the quality and credibility of their professional judgment.
     
  • Diffusion of results
    Report findings, including negative findings, accurately, completely, without distortion and in a timely manner.
     

Approved March 2006. Updated May 2017
ASHG Board of Directors