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Applying Genomic Technologies in Environmental Health Research: Challenges and Opportunities

Christiani, David C. MD,MPH; Sharp, Richard R. PhD; Collman, Gwen W. PhD; Suk, William A. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2001 - Volume 43 - Issue 6 - p 526-533
Original Articles
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Recentdiscoveries in molecular biology and genetics have made it possible forenvironmental health researchers to examine how genetic characteristics affectresponse to environmental exposures. Understanding such gene–environmentinteractions offers exciting possibilities for the prevention and control ofenvironmentally induced diseases. Despite these potential benefits, thecollection and analysis of genetic information in environmental healthresearch presents many of the same ethical, legal, and social (ELSI)challenges found in other types of genetic research. In this article, wedescribe a number of ELSI challenges in environmental genomic research and theopportunities and responsibilities that accompany thisresearch.

Fromthe Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health; theDepartment of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital; and Harvard MedicalSchool (Dr Christiani); the Office of the Scientific Director (Dr Sharp) andthe Division of Extramural Research (Dr Collman, Dr Suk), National Instituteof Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health; and theCenter for the Study of Medical Ethics and Humanities, Duke University (DrSharp).

Addresscorrespondence to: Dr David C. Christiani, Professor, Occupational HealthProgram, Harvard School of Public Health, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA02115.

The viewsexpressed in this article represent the opinions of the authors alone and donot necessarily represent the positions of either the National Institute ofEnvironmental Health Sciences or the National Institutes ofHealth.

Copyright© by American College of Occupational and EnvironmentalHealth

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.