Learn how GA4GH helps expand responsible genomic data use to benefit human health.
Learn how GA4GH helps expand responsible genomic data use to benefit human health.
Our Strategic Road Map defines strategies, standards, and policy frameworks to support responsible global use of genomic and related health data.
Discover how a meeting of 50 leaders in genomics and medicine led to an alliance uniting more than 5,000 individuals and organisations to benefit human health.
GA4GH Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation that supports the global GA4GH community.
To guide our collaborative, globe-spanning alliance, GA4GH relies on a Standards Steering Committee and an Executive Committee.
The Funders Forum brings together organisations that offer both financial support and strategic guidance.
The EDI Advisory Group responds to issues raised in the GA4GH community, finding equitable, inclusive ways to build products that benefit diverse groups.
Distributed across four Host Institutions, our staff team supports the mission and operations of GA4GH.
Curious who we are? Meet the people and organisations across six continents who make up GA4GH.
More than 500 organisations connected to genomics — in healthcare, research, patient advocacy, industry, and beyond — have signed onto the mission and vision of GA4GH as Organisational Members.
These core Organisational Members are genomic data initiatives that have committed resources to guide GA4GH work and pilot our products.
This subset of Organisational Members whose networks or infrastructure align with GA4GH priorities has made a long-term commitment to engaging with our community.
Local and national organisations assign experts to spend at least 30% of their time building GA4GH products.
Anyone working in genomics and related fields is invited to participate in our inclusive community by creating and using new products.
Wondering what GA4GH does? Learn how we find and overcome challenges to expanding responsible genomic data use for the benefit of human health.
Study Groups define needs. Participants survey the landscape of the genomics and health community and determine whether GA4GH can help.
Work Streams create products. Community members join together to develop technical standards, policy frameworks, and policy tools that overcome hurdles to international genomic data use.
GIF solves problems. Organisations in the forum pilot GA4GH products in real-world situations. Along the way, they troubleshoot products, suggest updates, and flag additional needs.
NIF finds challenges and opportunities in genomics at a global scale. National programmes meet to share best practices, avoid incompatabilities, and help translate genomics into benefits for human health.
Communities of Interest find challenges and opportunities in areas such as rare disease, cancer, and infectious disease. Participants pinpoint real-world problems that would benefit from broad data use.
See all our products — always free and open-source. Do you work on cloud genomics, data discovery, user access, data security or regulatory policy and ethics? Need to represent genomic, phenotypic, or clinical data? We’ve got a solution for you.
All GA4GH standards, frameworks, and tools follow the Product Development and Approval Process before being officially adopted.
Learn how other organisations have implemented GA4GH products to solve real-world problems.
Help us transform the future of genomic data use! See how GA4GH can benefit you — whether you’re using our products, writing our standards, subscribing to a newsletter, or more.
Help create new global standards and frameworks for responsible genomic data use.
Align your organisation with the GA4GH mission and vision.
Solve your real-world data problems with support from this valuable network of global institutions.
Work with like-minded groups committed to better data use in areas like rare disease, cancer, and infectious disease.
Share your thoughts on all GA4GH products currently open for public comment.
Solve real problems by aligning your organisation with the world’s genomics standards. We offer software dvelopers both customisable and out-of-the-box solutions to help you get started.
Learn more about upcoming GA4GH events. See reports and recordings from our past events.
Speak directly to the global genomics and health community while supporting GA4GH strategy.
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Questions? We would love to hear from you.
Read news, stories, and insights from the forefront of genomic and clinical data use.
Attend an upcoming GA4GH event, or view meeting reports from past events.
See new projects, updates, and calls for support from the Work Streams.
Read academic papers coauthored by GA4GH contributors.
Listen to our podcast OmicsXchange, featuring discussions from leaders in the world of genomics, health, and data sharing.
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View the latest GA4GH updates, Genomics and Health News, Implementation Notes, GDPR Briefs, and more.
Discover all things GA4GH: explore our news, events, videos, podcasts, announcements, publications, and newsletters.
21 Sep 2020
Today on the podcast we hear from Meg Doerr, a principal scientist in Data Governance and Ethics at Sage Bionetworks. Meg is the Programme Committee Chair for the upcoming GA4GH 8th Plenary meeting, which will take place on September 29 and 30. It will be the first fully virtual meeting, and we are delighted to have had Meg’s guidance in developing the programme.
Angela Page: Welcome to the OmicsXchange, I’m Angela Page. Today on the podcast I’m speaking with Meg Doerr, a Principal Scientist in Data Governance and Ethics at Sage Bionetworks. Meg is the Programme Committee Chair for the upcoming GA4GH 8th Plenary meeting, which will take place on September 29 and 30. It will be our first fully virtual meeting and we are delighted to have had Meg’s guidance in developing the programme. Meg has been active in the GA4GH Community since 2014 when she joined the Regulatory and Ethics Work Stream, and led the development of the GA4GH Mobile Health Consent Inventory. Welcome, Meg! I’m so happy to speak with you today!
Meg Doerr: Angela, it’s really exciting to be here.
Angela Page: So Meg, you have a really interesting background and I love for folks to hear how different members of our community found themselves here. Can you tell our listeners a bit about your journey?
Meg Doerr: I started my professional career as a botanist then, I was a middle school and high school science teacher for 10 years. I then attended graduate school and became a clinical genetic counselor. I practiced at the Cleveland Clinic, and while at the Cleveland Clinic, I became the clinical lead for a health IT project. That health IT project is how I got involved with the Global Alliance. And as that health IT project went on to be commercialized, I had been focusing on the ethical and legal research issues associated with health information technology. From there, I transitioned to Sage Bionetworks, where I’m a principal scientist in data governance and ethics. So I got involved in the global alliance in early 2014, and once I got my foot in to the mix, I just got pulled right in, I mean the opportunities to collaborate with so many of the world’s leading researchers, and then to work on projects that were truly meaningful to me meaningful to not only my work but also to my personal mission to make personalized health a global reality.
Angela Page: That’s such a unique path to where you are today—I love it. I know you’re leading this year’s Plenary Programme Committee, and helping to organize our first virtual plenary meeting. I’m curious what opportunities does GA4GH 8th Plenary present as a fully virtual meeting that past, in-person meetings may not have had?
Meg Doerr: Every meeting is virtual right now, and that can be a challenge for people. But what’s exciting for the particular context of the Global Alliance is that the virtual platform allows us to be a truly global meeting. We’re able to be more inclusive, bring in new voices, it makes the program accessible—even to students. So we’re really excited actually, by this opportunity to bring more people to the table.
Angela Page: This global inclusion has always been important to the GA4GH mission, but, this year in particular, it really is the focus of this meeting . What are the main themes for the 8th Plenary meeting, and what was the reasoning for focusing on these topics for this meeting?
Meg Doerr: So it’s all in the name. Right? The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health says it all with the focus of the meeting, as always, is global collaboration to accelerate genomics research. So we’re really looking for that multinational, all the way around the globe, collaboration spirit to really accelerate our understanding of human health. And certainly it’s never been more important; the global pandemic has really thrown into belief the importance of global cooperation in biomedical research. So, this plenary has two main themes. First, the importance of diversity in genomic data—so the why of inclusive datasets. Why do we need inclusive data sets to accelerate genomic research? The second theme is uniting the ethical and technical solutions to harness the power of data. So as genomic data sets diversify, what approaches help maximize scientific discovery while upholding our ethical obligation to the data contributors.
Angela Page: How has the program committee organized the agenda to support the themes of the meeting? And why did you decide to do it this way?
Meg Doerr: We’ve organized the meeting to have two sessions that are timezone friendly for the eastern hemisphere, and two sessions that are timezone friendly for the Western Hemisphere. As a global organization, we wanted to maximize global participation. It’s important to note that all of the sessions are going to be available online after the meeting. But we wanted to have a live experience in each of the hemispheres to really encourage participation of our global audience. On the first day of the meeting, we’re going to be exploring our thematic mandates, the diversity of genomic datasets and the importance of that and then the ethical technical solutions. On the second day of the meeting, we’re going to dig into the “How to”—so really looking at some example projects that are applying these principles in action around the world. We’re going to have a series of different types of sessions first starting out with keynotes and panel discussions that set up the thematic structure of our meeting. And then live q&a is with our keynote, attendees, and panelists. Moving on to breakout sessions and working meetings. And then there’s breakout sessions and working meetings where some of the real collaboration will happen, and you’ll get to really see the Global Alliance work in progress. And so I would really encourage not only attending the keynotes and the panel discussions, which sort of frames it up for you, but getting into the weeds, attending those breakout sessions, getting into those working meetings, so you can join in all of the good work that we’re doing.
Angela Page: So the virtual format is not necessarily what we are used to from past GA4GH meetings, and it certainly has some unique limitations and challenges. How can plenary attendees get the most value out of the meeting?
Meg Doerr: To get the most out of a virtual meeting, it can be a little bit of a challenge. So I think it’s important to ground yourself in sort of the framing of the meeting so you understand the context, which is why the keynotes and panels and live q&a are really important. But as you join breakout sessions and working meetings, you’re going to come in contact with different people who you’d like to collaborate with—who you have more questions for. Take the time to schedule one-on-one meetings with those attendees. And take time to go to the poster and networking sessions. Make sure that you use our Slack channel, for example, so that you can discuss in real time some of the themes or ideas that you’re coming up with. And of course, don’t worry about reaching out to people. It’s really, I would say, one of the things that I love best about the Global Alliance is how willing everyone is to collaborate. I mean, it really is an alliance. So don’t hesitate to just jump in with both feet.
Angela Page: That’s great advice, Meg. To our listeners—don’t forget to register for the plenary on our event website, which is linked in the transcript of this podcast and on the events page of the GA4GH website, www.ga4gh.org/events. The meeting is completely free and open to the public. We really want to encourage you to join our community and offer your ideas to improve genomic and related health data sharing.
Meg Doerr: One of the really cool things about the Alliance for me is that we’ve got super hardcore science is happening, standards are being developed, and you know, these really, really intense conversations are happening deep in the weeds. And equally at the same time, those conversations are happening on the ethics side. So it’s not just a meeting for genomic scientists, it’s a meeting for the legal and ethical community, people who are really interested in the implications of genomic science, for global health and for global privacy, for that matter. So the Alliance is a little unique in that way—they marry the ethical components of research directly with the deep science components of it.
Angela Page: Thank you so much for speaking with us today, Meg.
Meg Doerr: Thank you so much for having me on the podcast today. It was really a delight.
Thank you for listening to the OmicsXchange—a podcast of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health. The OmicsXchange podcast is produced by Stephanie Li and Caity Forgey, with music created by Rishi Nag. GA4GH is the international standards org for genomics, aimed at accelerating human health through data sharing. I’m Angela Page and this is the OmicsXchange.