Executive Update: Mona Miller, Executive Director
70 years ago, ASHG founders launched the Society recognizing the value of fostering a multidisciplinary community to advance research into human genetic structure and function, investigate their relationship to disease, and translate this knowledge to improve medicine and health. Today, that community is thriving and ASHG’s mission remains as central as ever. As genetics and genomics knowledge moves rapidly into translation and practice, each new piece of knowledge reveals still more to discover and apply.
In service to that mission, the Society’s new Strategic Plan establishes as one of several goals increasing awareness and appreciation of genetics and genomics research among the public and policymakers. Indeed, the plan’s core vision seeks a world where people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research – highlighting the field’s role in translating science into beneficial application and communicating with the public and policymakers about the valueand responsible use of genetic and genomic knowledge.
Building Toward an Inspiring Vision
ASHG has a strong foundation on which to build. The Society is already highly respected for its work facilitating and sharing promising scientific knowledge and supporting the field as it develops novel applications. It is also a valued voice for science and research in policy corridors, undertakes award-winning public education activities, and is commited to advancing responsible application of new technologies. Yet ASHG’s strongest asset in public engagement is you – because of you, ASHG is the largest and broadest professional genetics and genomics membership society, reflecting dozens of fields and specialties and working with many other allied organizations as well. In addition to your research, ASHG’s community is on the front lines of educating and engaging the public, policymakers, and students each day.
The Society will be exploring how it can best support you and the field to engage more easily and effectively in public education, awareness, and advocacy. To start, the Society is organizing itself to better tap and focus the energies of members to drive these outcomes in local communities and nationally. New, broader, and more clearly charged committees will benefit from and help strengthen existing programs and develop new ones. Setting course will happen over the coming year, but the Society has also already started several important foundational projects that we encourage you to learn about, use, and join. These include:
As I write, the Society is also mobilizing to oppose a resurgent legislative effort here in the U.S. that would permit gene patenting, overturning clear Supreme Court decisions rejecting such practices. This is something ASHG has long opposed and, in active coordination with the Association for Molecular Pathology, the Society will oppose any such legislation. As an organization, we have already joined a widely circulated sign-on letter, will tap our network of human genetics and genomics leaders, and will mobilize U.S. members to contact legislators as the bill progresses. Stay tuned.
This community knows better than anyone that human genetics and genomics is transforming every facet of research, medicine, and health. ASHG is dedicated to supporting and enhancing public awareness of your work, in collaboration with you and other organizations. We never forget that you make this possible through your membership – thank you for being a member and for your active engagement!
Mona V. Miller