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Australian study to explore public views on personal genomic testing

Research News
Friday, July 8, 2016 - 4:00pm
Are you curious about some or all of your genes? What would you use your genetic information for? Would you trust it? Would you share it?

Genioz logo It’s your genetic information, but what would you do with it?
Tell Genioz what you think!

The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) is working with leading Australian universities and research institutes in a new Australian Research Council-funded study called Genomics: National Insights of Australians (Genioz). Genioz aims to understand what Australians (and the rest of the world) expect of new genetic technologies –known as ‘personal genomics’ - that provide people access to their own genetic information for ancestry, paternity, sporting ability and health.

Traditionally, genetic testing has involved looking at a person’s DNA, one section at a time. Now, technologies can be used to analyse thousands of sections at once at a relatively low cost. Personal genomics tests can be bought online by anybody and a saliva sample mailed back to a private testing lab.

Professor Sylvia Metcalfe, lead investigator of Genioz (MCRI) and University of Melbourne) said the study is ground-breaking because it is shedding light on Aussie’s attitudes toward genetic technologies.

“We know Australians can access these online personal genomic tests which are available from locally or overseas based companies. But there is little unbiased information to help people make informed choices about whether or not they might want such a test or what implications test results will have for them or their families.

“Our findings from focus groups held earlier in our study suggest that people had minimal experience in personal genomic testing. There were mixed views about how useful these types of tests would be, although some people could see the value of particular genetic information depending on their own life situation. We now need to hear from a much larger sample of the Australian population.”

Genioz is investigating public knowledge, attitudes and awareness of personal genomics through an online survey Results will inform recommendations for programs and resources to help the Australian public make informed decisions about their own use of personal genomic technologies.

More than 500 people have already completed the online survey, but the researchers want to hear from thousands of people across Australia and the world, even if they don’t think they know much about genetics or the tests being offered. Anyone over the age of 18 can participate and is encouraged to share the link with their friends and family.

What can you do to help?

Complete the online survey at
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Twitter: @genioz_study

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