The Department of Health has released details of appointments to the new Human Genetics Commission (HGC). The HGC replaces and extends the ambit of the Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing, the Advisory Group on Scientific Advances in Genetics and the Human Genetics Advisory Commission. The commission is to be chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy and members include leading clinicians, researchers, ethicists and lawyers - and lay members.
The HGC will consider developments in the field of human genetics and will promote informed debate about the practical and ethical implications of such developments. The commission will also act in an advisory capacity for the health and science ministers in the Government and the NHS, and as a forum for debate and the exchange of information between the public and specific relevant bodies. Part of the terms of reference for the HGC is to act in accordance with rules of best practice for public bodies with regard to openness, transparency, accessibility and access to information.
Another priority is to encourage public participation in discussion and debate about advances in genetics. As its first action, the HGC is to hold an open public meeting in April of this year for discussion of its aims, roles and initial priorities. It has also launched a web site inviting public input and comments.