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Wednesday 17.07.2024  

MS. MPH. Rene Begay

Rene Begay is Diné from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, USA. She received her Masters in Clinical Science at the University of Colorado Medical Campus and obtained a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She currently works within the Colorado School of Public Health at the Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health as a Research Assistant promoting mental wellness for rural Native American Veterans. Her additional areas of focus are the ethical legal, social, and cultural implications of conducting genomics research within her community and other Indigenous spaces.

American Indian & Alaska Native Genomic Sovereignty

Pairing Expectations and Needs of Indigenous People

American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people’s health is often introduced as poor. The evidence shows that AIAN people are the most affected population in the United States (U.S.) with high rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many others. However, poor health does not occur in silo but is instead associated with an array of social determinants of health (SDOH) factors. These factors include government actions to natural environmental issues. One factor that is often mentioned today is the contribution of the genome to human health among Indigenous populations. The expectation from researchers and other actors is that participants in genomic research consent to the broad use of their DNA or that the resulting data is shared. These are immediate concerns for Tribal Nations based on past genomic research harms and power imbalances. Tribes can question how, when, and if they decide to engage in genomic research. It is the sovereign right of Tribes to determine whether to engage in genomic research, what makes the research equitable, how it benefits them, and whether to share the data. One aspect of genomic research often overlooked is the Traditional or cultural perspective about human genome research and whether it is acceptable. The future of genomics is complex, but with the training of new Indigenous scholars, there are ways to ensure that genomic research is culturally safe and respects Tribal sovereignty.

Otto-Stern-Zentrum (OSZ), Hörsaal 4, Campus Riedberg