Message from the Director, Karen Edwards, Ph.D.

Photo of Director Karen Edwards, Ph.D.

As Director of one of the three original CDC-funded Centers for Genomics and Public Health, I have been in a position to observe great strides in the field during the past decade and some recurring barriers. First, enormous advances in understanding genetic influences on diseases of public health importance have been made. These advances have been helped by improvements in genotyping technology that have occurred during this time. However, translation of these advances to clinical and public health practice remains challenging, due in part to the lack of evidence surrounding the clinical application and cost effectiveness of using of this information. It is clear that to fully achieve the vision of using genomics to improve the health of the population may require a more targeted approach to ensure that promising research findings are more fully evaluated and then prioritized for translation into clinical and public health practice.

As I reflect on the past 10 years, I believe that the following activities will aid in realizing the full promise of genomics:

  1. Continue to advocate for a robust research agenda in public health genomics that emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to evaluating genes, environmental factors and behaviors, and the related economic, ethical, legal, and social issues.
  2. Present a balanced view regarding the utility and potential application of genomic information.
  3. Provide easily understood examples of what we do and how genomic information can be successfully integrated into clinical and public health settings.
  4. Continue to provide training and education for a broad and diverse audience regarding the core disciplines of public health genomics.
  5. Encourage and facilitate multidisciplinary approaches that use genomic information to improve the health of the population while ensuring that this information does not contribute to health disparities.

The field of public health genomics is uniquely positioned to integrate the views and expertise of a broad group of stakeholders and to conduct multidisciplinary research that is needed to facilitate translation. By building on our diverse experiences over the past decade, we will help to ensure that health benefits are maximized and harms to individuals and populations are minimized as genomics becomes increasingly integrated into clinical and public health practice. These are exciting times, and I look forward to continuing to working in this area and find innovative ways to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

With this vision in mind, our goal at the UW Center for Genomics and Public Health is to continue to serve as a hub of expertise in genomics and public health with a focus on translating genomic information into practical public health knowledge; and to provide training and technical assistance to federal, state and local public health in a variety of areas related to genomics.

Please browse our site and contact us directly if you have any questions.

Karen Edwards, PhD
Director of the UW Center for Genomics & Public Health

For more information on Dr. Karen Edwards' research interests and publications, visit her faculty web page

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