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A light touch review of the Human Genetics Commission

6 November 2007
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 432

The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) - the UK Government's advisory body on developments in human genetics and their ethical, legal, social and economic implications - is undergoing an external 'light touch' review. In line with Government policy, all Scientific Advisory Committees are subject to such a review every five years. The Department of Health and Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills have appointed reviewers with backgrounds that include Senior NHS management, the Department of Health, regulatory bodies and charities.

The reviewers, Ian Hammond and Mary Whitty, have had the opportunity to observe some of the HGC's working groups, and to attend the plenary meeting in Durham in September. They are interviewing a large number of people including current and past Commissioners and those representing other organisations with an interest in the work of the HGC. They also want to hear the views of the Commission's Consultative Panel of people with experience of living with genetic conditions and will be attending the Consultative Panel meeting on 5 December to discuss these. In addition they will also be contacting overseas interests.

They are asking people for their views on:
- the way in which the HGC is set up, resourced and its relationship with Government and with other bodies
- how effectively it has met its terms of reference
- what have been the successes and failures of the HGC over the past five years and, looking forward
- what ethical, legal, social, economic and scientific challenges are  likely to emerge in human  genetics over the next five years
- what would be the most effective forum to debate the potential impact of these and advise Government accordingly
- what single change they would make to the HGC, if they were free to do so

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