What is Genom Austria?
The technical possibilities for examining our genetic constitution with genome sequencing are developing quickly. Today, genomes can be sequenced quickly and at a significantly lower cost than in the past. Next generation sequencing is becoming a common-place technology. Are we prepared for this? The public has hardly grappled with the information that can be gleaned from the genome. The goal of Genom Austria is to break the ice and start a conversation about the possibilities, consequences and necessary framework conditions: The purpose of our “Citizen Science Project” is to effectively contribute to raising awareness for the possibilities and consequences of genome sequencing.
We want to generate a public dialogue with experts and laypersons alike and reflect on the meaning of genome sequencing in all its facets. For this purpose, we are inviting volunteers to undergo an analysis of their personal genome with state-of-the-art technology and expert advice and then share the data with the public. Our pioneers’ genomes will be freely accessible via the Internet and form the basis and illustration material for the broad-based discussion of the possibilities and limits of genome research. Participation in Genom Austria is voluntary, and the project neither pursues commercial nor diagnostic goals.
For the medicine of the future
Knowledge about human genes and their functions contributes significantly to personal health and the medicine of the future. We are continually advancing our understanding of the correlation between the variations in our genes and specific illnesses, making it possible to provide more precise diagnoses and develop more targeted therapies. Prior genetic knowledge also allows us to be one step ahead of illnesses and counteract these accordingly. A person with a genetic predisposition for cardiovascular disease does not necessarily have to suffer a heart attack. For the most part, we can still control our own destiny and change our lifestyle accordingly.
Work on the genome can significantly contribute to a better understanding of cultural diversity – and thus improve our sense of community. Genome research teaches us the following: There is no reasonable basis for discrimination due to descent, skin colour or even illness. The donated genomes illustrate the diversity within our society. The more people understand how much and also how little the genome actually tells us about a person, the less one has to worry about genetic discrimination in the future.
Participation in Genom Austria
There are various ways to participate in Genom Austria. Interested pioneers over the age of 18, who are potentially willing to share their genome, can learn about the project on the website and also register there. 20 persons will be selected from all volunteers by the end of 2015; the participants will then undergo a complete genome analysis and a comprehension test in order to subsequently share their genome with the public. The platform Genom Austria is also available to anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion.
For registration, information and events, see www.genomaustria.at.