For more than 20 years, the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute has supported empirical and conceptual research to anticipate and address the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics. As a component of the agency that funds much of the underlying science, the program has always been an experiment. The ever-expanding number of issues the program addresses and the relatively low level of commitment on the part of other funding agencies to support such research make setting priorities especially challenging. Program-supported studies have had a significant impact on the conduct of genomics research, the implementation of genomic medicine, and broader public policies. The program's influence is likely to grow as ELSI research, genomics research, and policy development activities become increasingly integrated. Achieving the benefits of increased integration while preserving the autonomy, objectivity, and intellectual independence of ELSI investigators presents ongoing challenges and new opportunities.

Keyword(s): bioethicsELSIpolicysociety

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