The ELSI Research Program

Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research (CEER)

Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research Overview

The NHGRI ELSI Research Program has funded research grants from investigators in a wide range of disciplines. Many of these projects have used interdisciplinary approaches to investigate ELSI questions. As the pace of genomic and genetic research increases, the development of research teams that have the expertise and flexibility to respond rapidly to the large number of emerging and evolving ELSI issues is critical. All of these factors contribute to a need for new and more innovative approaches, including new organizational structures and funding mechanisms. The creation of research centers with the resources and expertise to design and implement multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary investigations of particularly complex, persistent or rapidly emerging ELSI issues will be an important addition to ongoing genetic, genomic and ELSI research efforts.

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Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research Synopsis

A Successful CEER Will:

  • Promote intensive and sustainable interactions among basic genomic and genetic scientists, clinical and social scientists, and researchers from law, bioethics and the humanities.
  • Be highly innovative and develop new concepts, methods, analyses, or ways to consider ELSI issues that will substantially advance the state of the art in ELSI.
  • Propose a very substantial advance to addressing a critical issue in ELSI research. (Achieving a substantial advance can entail addressing potentially controversial issues or identifying and exploring issues surrounding emerging technologies that are not yet in common use. It also can involve the use of new or unproven approaches or methodologies. These high risk issues and methodologies should be balanced by the potential for very high payoff and will require a detailed plan and a very effective management strategy.)
  • Encompass, as appropriate, the full spectrum of ELSI research including: analytical investigations that develop conceptual tools; data generating qualitative and quantitative studies; and 'translational' approaches that use these conceptual tools and data to explore and define appropriate public- policy options, research or health care guidelines. (These policy options and guidelines must incorporate diverse points of view, including, as appropriate, communities that may be particularly vulnerable or disproportionately affected by the issues being addressed.)
  • Propose research that cannot be reasonably addressed by a standard R01 Research Grant (As multidisciplinary collaborations on the core research continue, additional funding may be sought through the ELSI regular research and small research grant programs to support other related research.)
  • Add value beyond activities in genomics or in ELSI research that might already be ongoing at the applying institution.
  • Include a strategy for disseminating the results of the Center's research.
  • Increase the pool of ELSI researchers, by offering innovative, substantive training opportunities across appropriate disciplines. It will integrate the training of new investigators and broaden the training of established investigators.
  • Help ameliorate the ELSI community's shortage of investigators from underrepresented minority communities (African Americans, Alaskan Natives, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders) by developing effective opportunities to recruit and encourage members of these communities to develop as independent ELSI investigators.


  • Continue research already being pursued by the team, or by others.
  • Serve as the obvious next step in a project or field, which could be accomplished by assembling state-of-the-art components and innovating at the level of a typical R01.
  • Be a program project.
  • Provide infrastructure for an existing program or department.

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Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research Awarded Grants Information

In August 2004, four full centers and three exploratory centers were funded. More information on each of these centers and links to the center homepages, research focus, faculty and publications are available at: CEER Awarded Grants.

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Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research Program Contact

National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
5635 Fishers Lane
Suite 4076, MSC 9305
Bethesda, MD 20892-9305

Phone:(301) 402-4997
Fax:(301) 402-1950

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Last Updated: May 7, 2015