Drawing on a landscape analysis of existing data-sharing initiatives, in-depth interviews with expert stakeholders, and public deliberations with community advisory panels across the U.S., we describe features of the evolving medical information commons. We identify participant-centricity and trustworthiness as the most important features of an MIC and discuss the implications for those seeking to create a sustainable, useful, and widely available collection of linked resources for research and other purposes.
A 2011 National Academies of Sciences report called for an “Information Commons” and a “Knowledge Network” to revolutionize biomedical research and clinical care. We interviewed 41 expert stakeholders to examine governance, access, data collection, and privacy in the context of a medical information commons. Stakeholders' attitudes about MICs align with the NAS vision of an Information Commons; however, differences of opinion regarding clinical use and access warrant further research to explore policy and technological solutions.
Meaningful participant engagement has been identified as a key contributor to the success of efforts to share data via a “Medical Information Commons”. We present findings from expert stakeholder interviews aimed at understanding barriers to engagement and the appropriate role of MIC participants. Although most interviewees supported engagement, they distinguished between individual versus collective forms. They also noted challenges including representation and perceived inefficiency, prompting reflection on political aspects of engagement and efficiency concerns.
BackgroundGenetics and genomics research (GGR) is increasingly being conducted around the world; yet, researchers and research oversight entities in many countries have struggled with ethical challenges. A range of ethics and regulatory issues need to be addressed through comprehensive policy frameworks that integrate with local environments. While important efforts have been made to enhance understanding and awareness of ethical dimensions of GGR in Africa, including through the H3Africa initiative, there remains a need for in-depth policy review, at a country-level, to (...) inform and stimulate local policy development and revision on the continent.MethodsTo identify and characterize existing ethics-related guidelines and laws applicable to GGR across much of Africa, we conducted a scoping review of English language policy documents identified through databases, repositories, and web searches. Thirty-six documents were included and coded using a framework that contained a range of themes across five analytical categories: (1) respect, (2) beneficence, (3) justice, (4) independent oversight, and (5) bans and prohibitions. Data analysis software (NVivo 12) was used to organize, code, and tabulate information according to document characteristics and topics. Illustrative examples of policy requirements were selected for inclusion.ResultsDocuments that met inclusion criteria spanned 20 years; published between 1996 and 2018, with the majority (58%) published after 2009. About two-thirds were denoted as “guidelines,” and slightly more than half were non-exclusive to GGR. Very few (six) country-level documents identified were specific to GGR. Requirements related to the principle of “respect” appeared most often across all documents, relative to other principles and processes. The most commonly stated ban was on reproductive cloning. Other prohibitions applied to germline editing, undue inducements in research, sample use for commercial purposes, employee mandatory DNA testing, fetal sex selection, stem cell use, eugenics, and research without public health benefits.ConclusionsEnforceable policies that are indispensable to the ethical conduct and review of GGR are either deficient or missing in many African countries. Existing international, GGR-specific ethics guidelines can be used to inform GGR policy development at a country-level, in conjunction with insight from country specific ethics committees and other local stakeholders. (shrink)
Accessing BRCA1/2 data facilitates the detection of disease-associated variants, which is critical to informing clinical management of risks. BRCA1/2 data sharing is complex and many practices exist. We describe current BRCA1/2 data-sharing practices, in the United States and globally, and discuss obstacles and incentives to sharing, based on 28 interviews with personnel at U.S. and non-U.S. clinical laboratories and databases. Our examination of the BRCA1/2 data-sharing landscape demonstrates strong support for and robust sharing of BRCA1/2 data around the world, increasing (...) global accesses to diverse data sets. (shrink)
Understanding the clinical significance of variants associated with hereditary cancer risk requires access to a pooled data resource or network of resources—a “cancer gene variant commons”—incorporating representative, well-characterized genetic data, metadata, and, for some purposes, pathways to case-level data. Several initiatives have invested significant resources into collecting and sharing cancer gene variant data, but further progress hinges on identifying and addressing unresolved policy issues. This commentary provides insights from a modified policy Delphi process involving experts from a range of stakeholder (...) groups involved in the data-sharing ecosystem. In particular, we describe policy issues and options generated by Delphi participants in five domains critical to the development of an effective cancer gene variant commons: incentives, financial sustainability, privacy and security, equity, and data quality. Our intention is to stimulate wider discussion and lay a foundation for further work evaluating policy options more in-depth and mapping them to those who have the power to bring about change. Addressing issues in these five domains will contribute to a cancer gene variant commons that supports better care for at-risk and affected patients, empowers patient communities, and advances research on hereditary cancers. (shrink)