Location: Rockville, MD
Mission: To advance human genetics in science, health, and society through excellence in research, education, and advocacy.
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is the world’s largest genetics professional society, with more than 7,000 members including researchers, clinicians, genetic counselors, and other genetics professionals. Its members are at the forefront of research exploring the workings of the human genome, the genetic underpinnings of disease, and the application of research findings to health advances. The Society hosts a scientific annual meeting that attracts over 7,000 attendees, and publishes The American Journal of Human Genetics, a premier scientific journal publishing many of the most important findings in human genetics.
ASHG is one of Research!America’s newest members, joining in 2017. We believe it is a fundamental responsibility of the Society to communicate effectively the value of scientific research to the public and Congress. ASHG joined Research!America to work with fellow member organizations to be more effective advocates on behalf of our members. This desire to speak up for our science is also why we recently launched our new ASHG Advocate’s pledge to facilitate advocacy by the Society’s members. Particularly in an era of federal budget caps, it is all the more important for the scientific community to make the case for how biomedical research improves individual and public health.
As it is for other Research!America members, robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a key priority for ASHG members. Indeed, reflecting the widespread and growing use of genetic and genomic approaches in basic biomedical research and human health applications, nearly one fourth of NIH-funded research involves the application or investigation of genetic approaches; greater understanding of the complex roles many genes play in protecting or promoting disease; and the interaction between genes and environmental exposures.
Notably, although the National Human Genome Research Institute remains a key NIH institute driving novel approaches and applications into many areas of investigation, most other NIH institutes and centers also invest significantly in genetics and genomics research. Examples include the transformative role of human genetics to treat cancer ever more effectively at the National Cancer Institute; the power of growing prenatal genetics knowledge to inform diagnosis and treatments at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; and novel approaches to understanding the diverse genesis of mental health disorders at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Another policy priority for the Society is fostering an environment that encourages the public to volunteer for research. This year was the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a law that protects individuals from being penalized by their employer or health insurer because of their genetic makeup. As I described in my Research!America post, GINA was designed to advance science and medicine by protecting the public from discrimination as a result of participating in genetic research or taking a genetic test. I urge you to share ASHG’s video, GINA Protects You and Your Family: Here’s How, to spread the word about GINA’s protections.
We have all benefited from the remarkable advances in genetics in recent years. Scientific progress such as this depends on ongoing support from our nation’s political leaders for robust, sustained federal investments in biomedical research. ASHG applauds Research!America’s work as a leading research champion, and is proud to stand with fellow Research!America members in making the case for science.
For more information, visit www.ashg.org.