The ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of genomic research are the focus of a new international collaboration to use web 2.0 technologies to build a "collaboratory" infrastructure for ELSI research globally. 


Professor Don Chalmers of the University of Tasmania Centre of Law and Genetics and the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania is one of the authors of a paper published in Science that outlines the initiative iwhich s designed to catalyse international collaboration in ELSI genomics and to better assess the impact and dynamics of global genome research.


Professor Chalmers believes that enabling large-scale global collaborations are essential for ELSI research to become more effective and efficient.


"This will lead to the development of better local, regional and international practice and policy," he said.


Dr Jane Kaye of the University of Oxford said ELSI 2.0 will also connect stakeholders in research from around the world, "allowing us to develop new ways of working together."


"By using 2.0 technologies we can develop global perspectives and solutions to pressing issues in genomics," Dr Kaye said.


Professor Eric Juengst regards ELSI 2.0 as being highly innovative.


"It will not just be a discussion board but will allow real-time collaborations to enable capacity building between people across the globe, whether they be healthcare professionals, researchers, patient advocacy groups, patients or research participants, policy makers or funders.


"It is an opportunity to use technology to break down barriers and to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resources in new and equitable ways."

What will ELSI 2.0 do?

  • ELSI 2.0 will make it easy for an ELSI scholar in Africa to connect with other scholars around the world or to tap into resources not otherwise readily available.
  • For a US-based advocacy organisation, the Collaboratory will provide essential services to extend the reach of work otherwise locked up in the academic literature.
  • A funder in the European Union could request a rapid response team to respond to ad hoc, short-notice requests related to emerging issues or to forecast important policy directions.
  • A patient could become an active participant in ELSI research or find literature and experts on subjects such as direct-to-consumer testing.