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First Nationwide Conference to Address Genetics Issues Significant to Hispanic/Latino Populations

  • Posted: June 19, 2003

The Hispanic/Latino Genetics Community Consultation Network (HLGCCN) summit meeting, a first of its kind conference, will be held in Washington, D.C., from June 22 to 24, 2003. Supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it will feature 75 key opinion leaders and genetics experts from Hispanic/Latino communities across the United States who will explore a wide range of human genetics issues and their significance to Hispanic/Latino populations.

The purpose of the HLGCCN project is to provide a forum for Hispanics and Latinos to identify, prioritize, and disseminate information on genetics issues. The ultimate goal is to develop recommendations for policies and strategies to encourage participation in clinical trials and increase the benefits of research among Hispanic/Latino populations.

According to Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., principal investigator of the HLGCCN, member of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) National Cancer Advisory Board, and associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, "Despite all of the remarkable advances in human genetics research, people are generally unaware of many of the issues in this field that directly impact the public, particularly those in the Hispanic/Latino community."

In addition to participants gathering in Washington, a larger number of Hispanics and Latinos around the country are identifying priority genetics issues through pre-meeting surveys. The surveys are being administered in collaboration with the University of Maryland.

The HLGCCN project is a combined effort of Redes En Acción (Networks in Action), which is a major Special Populations Network effort of the NCI, Baylor College of Medicine, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). This meeting is a direct outgrowth of NIGMS' first community consultation meeting in September 2000 at which members of the Latino community expressed interest in hosting their own community consultation meeting.

Leadership of several NIH supporting institutes will participate on panels at the summit meeting. The panel that will respond to recommendations for strategic, action, and dissemination plans determined by conference participants will include Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., NCI director, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D, NHGRI director, and Judith H. Greenberg, Ph.D., NIGMS acting director. Greenberg and Raynard Kington, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of NIH, will serve on the conference welcoming committee chaired by Jorge Gómez, M.D., Ph.D., chief, Organ Systems Branch, NCI.

"This project is a very significant event," Ramirez said. "It will increase the knowledge of the Hispanic/Latino community's research priorities, ethical issues significant to this population, and needs and opportunities for fostering issues as they relate to Latinos. Additionally, it is our hope that this project will increase the number of Latinos participating in clinical genetics research."

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For more information on Redes En Acción, go to http://www.redesenaccion.org/