Summit Participants Set Latino Genetics Priorities

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November 11, 2003

Federal health agencies should identify priorities for genetic research among Hispanic/Latino populations, attract and develop more Latino genetic researchers and develop more Latino genetic researchers and others to work with Hispanic populations, and promote genetic research collaboration among Latino community members and scientists.

That conclusion from the Hispanic/Latino Genetics Community Consultation Network (HLGCCN) summit meeting summarized the primary genetic research recommendation made by participants in the historic two-day national conference in Washington, D.C. In addition to research, the prioritized recommendations were also delivered in the context of healthcare services, professional education and training, and public education and outreach.

Response to the recommendations by leaders of three major components of the National Institutes of Health in attendance at the first-of-its-kind summit meeting was extremely positive. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), summed up the feelings of his colleagues when he told participants that federal authorities "need you, your advice, your guidance, your leadership, your contributions...."

Added Francis S. Collins, M.D., PhD, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the training of minority researchers and building the bridge for their delivery into the Hispanic/Latino community have been lacking in the past, but "this is a high priority for us and I take your agenda very seriously. It's ambitious, it's awesome and (it's impressive to see) the very exciting plans you have collectively put together."

Judith H. Greenberg, PhD, Acting Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), said the community consultation summit "exceeded my wildest dreams...This will not be the last meeting like this...we are committed to supporting follow-up. The enthusiasm of the participants makes me hopeful that the momentum will continue."

More than two years in the planning, the summit meeting brought together 120 Hispanic/Latino genetics researchers, program administrators, government workers and community leaders to discuss the current status of genetics research/services with regard to Latinos and determine recommendations for the future. The summit, drawing participants from across the country and leaders of federal health institutions, served as a participatory model for involving Latinos in identifying and discussing genetic issues and examining those that are of greatest significance to the Hispanic/Latino population.

The conference was the result of a combined effort of Redes En Acción: The National Hispanic/Latino Cancer Network (a Special Populations Networks initiative of the National Cancer Institute) and Baylor College of Medicine, with the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Playing support roles within NCI were the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), Cancer Genetics Network (CGN) and Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD).

As a result of the summit meeting, the HLGCCN is sharing the conference's recommendations with the NIH and other agencies and leaders working to address these needs in the Hispanic/Latino community.

For a report of the HLGCCN summit meeting, click on this link to view a copy of the 2003 Hispanic/Latino Genetics Community Consultation Summit Event Report. A scientific proceedings report of the meeting will be published by the NCI.

What Is Redes En Acción? Redes En Acción is a major NCI-supported initiative to combat cancer among Latinos through a nationwide network of community-based organizations, research institutions, government health agencies and the public. Core activities include promoting cancer training and research opportunities for Latino students and researchers, generating research projects on key Latino cancer issues, and supporting cancer awareness activities within the Latino community.

The initiative is coordinated by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and San Antonio, with regional network centers in San Antonio, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego