The ELSI Research Program

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ELSI Research Program

The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program

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ELSI Research Program Overview

The National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program was established in 1990 as an integral part of the Human Genome Project (HGP) to foster basic and applied research on the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic and genomic research for individuals, families and communities. The ELSI Research Program funds and manages studies, and supports workshops, research consortia and policy conferences related to these topics.

An article describing the ELSI Research Program in greater detail can be found here:
The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute: Reflections on an Ongoing Experiment

ELSI Research Priorities

On February 10, 2011, Nature magazine published NHGRI's strategic plan for the future of human genome research, called Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside PDF file. This plan includes a section on Genomics and Society that outlines four areas that will need to be addressed as genomic science and medicine move forward. Based on these areas, the NHGRI has developed the following broad research priorities.

A more detailed discussion of each of these areas and a list of examples of possible research topics is available at ELSI Research Priorities and Possible Research Topics.

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ELSI Research Funding Opportunities

ELSI Research Program Announcements (PA)

The NHGRI, along with several other National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes, has released revised general program announcements to solicit research projects that anticipate, analyze, and address the ethical, legal, and social implications of the discovery of new genetic technologies and the availability and use of genetic information resulting from human genetics and genomic research.

NIH-Wide Ethical Issues in Human Subjects Research Program Announcements

The NHGRI participates in the NIH-wide program announcments on human subjects research issues.

ELSI Conference Grants

The NHGRI ELSI Program accepts Conference Grant (R13) applications. For specific instructions for preparing a conference grant application, see:

ELSI Training and Career Development Funding Opportunities

The ELSI program participates in a number of training and career development funding opportunities.

International Bioethics Training

The Fogarty International Center's international bioethics training programs [] support education and research training to develop ethics expertise in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The programs complement other global health research and research training programs in the mission areas of NIH Institutes and Centers.

Pre- and Post-Doctoral Training Opportunities
Career Development Opportunities 

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Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research

In the Fall of 2003, the NHGRI in collaboration with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) launched a new initiative to create interdisciplinary Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research (CEER). The CEERs are designed to bring investigators from multiple disciplines together to work in innovative ways to address important new, or particularly persistent, ethical, legal, and social issues related to advances in genetics and genomics. In addition, the centers will support the growth of the next generation of researchers on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research. Special efforts will be made to recruit potential researchers from under-represented groups.

For more information about the CEER's program, see: Centers of Excellence in ELSI Research (CEER).

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ELSI Research Program Staff

Program Directors

Joy Boyer, B.A.

Dave Kaufman, Ph.D.

Nicole Lockhart, Ph.D.

Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.

Program Analysts

Alexander Lee

Annie Niehaus

Program Assistant

Tasha Stewart

The Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research Program
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: April 18, 2016