We propose to continue and expand the impact of a six-day summer short course on genomics for Indigenous college and university students with a background and interest on the impacts of genetic research. The short-term goals of the program, entitled the Summer internship for INdigenous peoples in Genomics (SING), are to train Indigenous students in next-generation genomic and bioinformatics analyses and to build capacity for scientific research of Native American communities. Additionally, the SING program builds a support network for Indigenous scholars in the STEM fields. We expand the impact of the SING short course by having additional venues of the SING short course at universities with established research programs involving Indigenous peoples and genomics in different geographic regions of the United States. New to the SING program will be to have a short course at a tribal college in the Southwest and a university on the East Coast of North America. Parts of the SING short course are tailored to specific issues of Indigenous peoples of the geographic region and will take advantage of the expertise of faculty of the host institutions. Specifically, we propose to convene the SING short course at the University of Connecticut in 2020 with specialized modules on microbiomes and community-driven research, Northern Arizona University and Din College in 2021 with specialized modules on environmental health and genomics and tribal genetic policy and The Ohio State University with a specialized module on infectious disease and impacts of European colonization in 2022. The expertise of the SING faculty and resources available at the host universities provide enriching environments to educate Native American students and tackle important problems of genomics with Indigenous communities. Our unique short course with significant hands-on training in molecular biology, bioinformatics and ELSI strategies transform education for Indigenous trainees in the scientific community. This program will continue to be empirically evaluated to better serve as a model for others.
This project will help reduce the large bias that exists in research subjects and potential beneficiaries of public health. Most health-related genomic studies are conducted on subjects of European descent and rare genetic variants from non-European individuals that contribute to disease are missed. A path forward is to increase Indigenous research subjects in health-related genomics by having Indigenous scientists, who understand the concerns of the communities, lead future research.
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