Enabling responsible sharing of genomic data to benefit human health

As genomic medicine moves towards standard of care, sharing human genomic data across borders, systems, and research and clinical environments has been a major global challenge. 

The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) was established to tackle some of the issues associated with the genomic data revolution, in particular, to develop international standards and policies that would promote easier access to and the responsible use of that data. 

Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Director Professor Kathryn North AC is Vice-Chair of GA4GH, along with Vice-Chair Dr Heidi Rehm and Chair Professor Ewan Birney.  

The breadth of that work is now captured in the international journal Cell Genomics, which dedicates its latest issue to the GA4GH.  

The open-access publication includes an extensive list of tools and resources developed by alliance members, academic papers, global policies and models for data sharing, and an overview of different workstreams. It also includes commentary and interviews with the GA4GH senior executive. 

Ten papers make up this special issue, including a marker paper that provides a high-level overview of the GA4GH organisation and strategy for interoperability (the ability to access and share clinical and genetics data) across the international genomics landscape.  

The issue includes a commentary on the concept of federation, a preview article on the impact of GA4GH on global interoperability from the leads of the NIH All of Us research program (a GA4GH Driver Project), three technical standards papers, and implementation papers from CanDIG (also a Driver Project) and the Broad Institute (a GA4GH Host Institution).  

Rounding out the collection are a Q&A with members of the GA4GH Executive Committee and a series of brief commentaries from contributors on their experiences of collaborating with GA4GH.  

"GA4GH is so successful because of the spirit of collaboration and engagement that underpins everything we do," GA4GH Vice-Chair Kathryn North said.  

"The process of putting this issue together further reflects the dedication, passion, and commitment of our community and we are delighted to see it come to fruition."  

GA4GH has 666 members across 54 countries including MCRI, AstraZeneca, Australian Genomics Health Alliance, Boston Children's Hospital, CSIRO, Google, Johns Hopkins University, MGHA, Melbourne Health, Microsoft, NHMRC, Pfizer, Royal Children's Hospital and the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Read all the papers on the power of genomic data sharing in the latest Cell Genomics issue here