ASHG survey finds Americans strongly support human genetics research and potential

January 29, 2020

ROCKVILLE, Md. - As genetics and genomics knowledge expands rapidly throughout research, medicine, and society, Americans are excited and optimistic about this area of research and its emerging health applications, according to a new survey released today by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in partnership with Research!America.

The survey found the large majority of Americans agree genetic knowledge will be important to their own health and their families' health. Americans agree that more research is needed in human genetics, and that increased federal funding for that research is important. The survey also confirms the importance placed on confidentiality and security of research data, addressing Americans' views regarding genetic testing coverage, and highlighting opposition to the use of genetics for insurance coverage or rate-setting. Moreover, Americans express great curiosity about genetics, as well as interest in what it tells us about human history and our common heritage as a species, even as knowledge gaps persist.

The nationwide survey, conducted by Zogby Analytics, December 2019, consisted of an online survey of 1,100 American adults, plus 775 additional adults for minority population oversampling. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent. The margin of error was higher for subgroups.

ASHG undertook the survey following a broad review of existing recent public opinion polls and academic research findings that covered a wide array of genetics and medical research topics. That review is also being released as a companion resource, providing additional insights and raising important questions regarding public opinion on a broader set of questions than possible to be covered in the ASHG/Research!America survey.

Additional highlights from the ASHG/Research!America survey include:- Thirty percent report having heard of "precision medicine," a fast-paced area of research that is creating new diagnostic and treatment options based on an individual's genetic composition.

"When it comes to human genetics, the U.S. public is supportive of research, believes more research is needed, and believes it's important to national health and their families' health," said ASHG President Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, PhD. "It's exciting how curious and hopeful Americans are about this fast-paced area of research. That said, the survey shows there is still important work to do in educating the public on some genetics basics and how it might benefit them through applications like personalized medicine. It is rewarding to know they would participate in research that could help themselves or a loved one, but they also want assurances about privacy and confidentiality of that research data."

Wynshaw-Boris said the Society is also committed to realizing a world in which people everywhere realize the benefits of genetics and genomics research. "Lower awareness and higher skepticism among underserved populations reflect legitimate historic experience with research that we need to understand and the need to improve engagement and education with diverse populations," he said. "Overall, the poll confirms that more can be done to reinforce the progress and potential of genetics research, while also educating the public about rigorous privacy practices and laws already in place for U.S. federal research, and our growing ability to evaluate risks or resilience for common conditions such as heart disease, dementia, diabetes, or mental illness."

"Time and again, the public tells us they value medical research," said Research!America President & CEO Mary Woolley. "Americans believe in the hope research presents to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. As a nation, we must step up and invest robustly in research to find the solutions to what ails us."

In coming months, ASHG will increase communication about the value of human genetics to the public, including webinars, papers, and public information and engagement on topics related to current advances and issues in human genetics. This is part of the organization's goal in the next three to five years to serve as a reliable source for public information on the topic of human genetics.

"It is an exciting time for human genetics and genomics, and emerging knowledge is speeding discovery and applications in research, medicine, and society," Wynshaw-Boris said. "With these advances, we seek to build a future where people everywhere benefit from human genetics and genomics research."
-end-


American Society of Human Genetics

Related Genetics Articles from Brightsurf:

Human genetics: A look in the mirror
Genome Biology and Evolution's latest virtual issue highlights recent research published in the journal within the field of human genetics.

The genetics of blood: A global perspective
To better understand the properties of blood cells, an international team led by UdeM's Guillaume Lettre has been examining variations in the DNA of 746,667 people worldwide.

Turning to genetics to treat little hearts
Researchers makes a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of a common congenital heart disease.

New drugs more likely to be approved if backed up by genetics
A new drug candidate is more likely to be approved for use if it targets a gene known to be linked to the disease; a finding that can help pharmaceutical companies to focus their drug development efforts.

Mapping millet genetics
New DNA sequences will aid in the development of improved millet varieties

Genetics to feed the world
A study, published in Nature Genetics, demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology known as genomic selection in a wheat improvement program.

The genetics of cancer
A research team has identified a new circular RNA (ribonucleic acid) that increases tumor activity in soft tissue and connective tissue tumors.

New results on fungal genetics
An international team of researchers has found unusual genetic features in fungi of the order Trichosporonales.

Mouse genetics influences the microbiome more than environment
Genetics has a greater impact on the microbiome than maternal birth environment, at least in mice, according to a study published this week in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

New insights into genetics of fly longevity
Alexey Moskalev, Ph.D., Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Radiobiology and Gerontology Institute of Biology, and co-authors from the Institute of biology of Komi Science Center of RAS, Engelgard's Institute of molecular biology, involved in the study of the aging mechanisms and longevity of model animals announce the publication of a scientific article titled: 'The Neuronal Overexpression of Gclc in Drosophila melanogaster Induces Life Extension With Longevity-Associated Transcriptomic Changes in the Thorax' in Frontiers in Genetics - a leading open science platform.

Read More: Genetics News and Genetics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.