Published: Thursday, January 7, 2021, 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time
Media Contact: Kara Flynn, 202.257.8424, firstname.lastname@example.org
ROCKVILLE, MD – As part of its commitment to building a more diverse workforce, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) today announced the launch of the Human Genetics and Genomics Workforce Diversity Initiative. With support from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), ASHG will work with other leading organizations and individuals to assess the demographic landscape of the U.S. human genetics and genomics workforce and develop recommendations for future collective action to enhance diversity and inclusion. The initiative’s Advisory Group includes representatives of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG), the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), minority serving institutions and other groups dedicated to enhancing diversity in the field.
The joint effort is a critical first step in NHGRI’s new action agenda for a diverse genomics workforce, which was released today. The NHGRI-funded initiative is part of a strategic imperative to make the genomics workforce more diverse, as outlined in a commentary that appears today in the latest issue of ASHG’s American Journal of Human Genetics.
“ASHG envisions a world in which people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research and to achieve that vision, ASHG has made workforce diversity an ongoing top priority, bringing new voices, broader perspectives and an engaged community to achieve a shared, vital mission,” said ASHG President Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD. “ASHG and NHGRI are both dedicated to understanding the current state of our workforce and to help build collective, collaborative, sustained efforts to improve diversity. Because this requires many minds and organizations working together, we are delighted to partner actively with many valued peer societies to achieve these goals.”
An immediate area of focus will be collecting and standardizing existing workforce demographics data from the peer societies and from leaders of institutions that represent academia, clinical, government, industry, and policy fields. This project will focus on conducting original quantitative and qualitative research through data collection from relevant professional scientific membership communities and organizations through surveys, which will be announced later this month. These findings will be used to assemble a benchmarkable report that can serve as a foundation for setting future goals and metrics. In addition to close partnerships with NSGC and ACMG, ASHG will also seek to solicit data through other valued groups, under the umbrella of NHGRI’s action agenda for a diverse genomics workforce.
The advisory group also will be tasked with gathering information on workforce climate and culture. It will convene focus groups of diverse individuals from the genetics and genomics workforce and experts on scientific workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion, developing recommended strategies and projects the groups could undertake collectively in future years to address key findings. The advisory group will also form what ASHG hopes will be an enduring Alliance of leading organizations supporting coordinated change.
“NHGRI’s 2020 strategic vision puts diversity, equity and inclusion at its center and we know progress needs to be measurable,” said Vence Bonham, J.D., senior advisor to the NHGRI director on genomics and health disparities. “The Initiative will not only provide the data foundation we need to reliably monitor success, but it will also identify opportunities for collective action by many critical organizations and encourage the sharing of resources and perspectives.”
With the finalization of the baseline report and report on common strategies to increase genomics workforce diversity and inclusion, ASHG will work with peer societies and others to broadly disseminate information and data, present findings at relevant conferences and meetings, and publish a report in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the ASHG open access journal, Human Genetics and Genomics Advances and/or other relevant scholarly journals.
“Through this collaborative work, ASHG reinforces that human genetics and genomics engages a deeply interwoven community driving innovation in research, clinical care and patient engagement, and that we all have a role to include new and broader voices to advance genetics and genomics for people everywhere,” said Dana Crawford, Chair of ASHG’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
ASHG anticipates the survey will be distributed to members in mid-to late-January and will be open for 6-8 weeks.
* * *
About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)
Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit: http://www.ashg.org.