Introduction to the Workshop
URLs Provided by Attendees
- Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues
The electronic form of this document may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop IV, 1994.
Abstracts scanned from text submitted for November 1994 DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop. Inaccuracies have not been corrected.
Human Genetics for Nonscientists: Practical Workshops for Policy Makers and Opinion Leaders
Mark Bloom, David Micklos, and Jan Witkowski
DNA Learning Center, Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
Communications and sociological research suggests that information campaigns have an indirect effect on public opinions and behavior. Information often appears to flow to the public in two steps. First, "opinion leaders" assess information from a variety of sources and form attitudes about issues. These well-informed individuals, in turn, influence the opinions and behaviors of people around them. Thus, information campaigns aimed at a relatively small number of opinion leaders may provide a cost-effective means to reach large segments of the public.
With this model in mind, we designed a workshop for influential nonscientists who interface with human genetics research and society. Most participants come to the workshop with extensive "book knowledge" on genetics, but only fragmentary understanding of the technology upon which modern genetic analysis is based. Thus, the workshop aims to deepen insight into the research process and fill in gaps in participant's understanding. The workshop is composed of three components that juxtapose the theory, practice, applications, and implications of human gene manipulation. Concept seminars, presented by project staff, introduce key principles that underpin human genome analysis, including the molecular basis of inheritance, gene mapping and cloning, and DNA diagnosis. These topics were made tangible through laboratory sessions where participants construct a restriction map and make their own DNA fingerprints using PCR. Feature seminars, presented by genetics professionals, provide first-person insight into the research process and the ethical dilemmas of human genetics research.
Four workshops supported by the first round of funding drew together an eclectic group of administrators and communicators from federal and state governments, genetic support groups, foundations, associations, the media, science education, law, and ethics. With second-round funding in 1994, we targeted a new group of opinion leaders with great potential to influence the medical community: education directors at hospitals. The initial workshop in this series, held in April, drew participants from 14 hospitals in the New York metropolitan area. The second workshop will draw medical education directors representing many regions of the country.