Spring has arrived, bringing a flurry of 'genomicists' to NIH for major talks. As part of the NHGRI seminar series celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Human Genome Project's launch, Drs. Ewan Birney and Bob Cook-Deegan gave talks entitled "Genomes and Big Data: A Personal View" and "Origins of the Human Genome Project: A Political History," respectively. As the second installment of a special Genomics and Health Disparities Lecture Series, Dr. Neil Powe presented a talk entitled "Chronic Kidney Disease: A Window into Understanding Health Disparities." Finally, NIH hosted talks by Dr. Carlos Bustamante about "Models and Data in Biomedicine: What's Real and What's Noise? And Why Should We Care?" as part of NIH's PI Day events, and by Dr. Elaine Mardis about "Translating the Cancer Genome: Transforming Cancer Care" as part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. Videoarchives of all five talks are available on NHGRI's GenomeTV or the NIH Videocast website.
For this issue of The Genomics Landscape, I am delighted to feature the cutting-edge behavioral research capabilities of the Immersive Virtual Testing Area (IVETA) found within our Institute's Intramural Research Program. This month's issue also highlights an educational infographic illustrating the basics of genetics and genomics, a study about DNA sequencing accuracy, and a new collaboration in genomic medicine.
Specifically, April's The Genomics Landscape features stories about:
All the best,
NHGRI's Intramural Research Program houses unique investigative endeavors of various types. One such enterprise is the Immersive Virtual Environment Test Unit, which encompasses the Immersive Virtual Testing Area (IVETA). Founded in 2006, IVETA is an experimental behavioral science research laboratory within the NIH Clinical Center that serves the NHGRI Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB). The focus of IVETA is the development of advanced communications methodologies and technologies for use in behavioral research.
IVETA provides expertise, tools, and assistance to investigators who seek to integrate technologically-based behavioral research tools into their studies. The laboratory develops virtual-reality worlds for helping to answer research questions posed by SBRB investigators, and has recently expanded its scope to collaborate with other NIH researchers. IVETA's head is Dr. Susan Persky, who arrived at NHGRI in 2009. The laboratory uses innovative technologies, such as immersive virtual reality, for research projects that aim to advance knowledge at the intersections of genomics, human behavior, and society.
Dr. Susan Persky helps a volunteer using IVETA technology.
Dr. Persky and her collaborators are exploring how new genomic knowledge influences the interactions between healthcare providers and patients, as well as in other social circumstances. The IVETA technology uses virtual reality to simulate healthcare situations, examining how genomic information affects healthcare communication, relationships between healthcare providers and patients, medical decision-making, and peoples' emotions and behavior.
More specifically, IVETA simulates clinical visits through the use of virtual-reality healthcare providers or patients. The simulations allow researchers to vary elements that they would like to study; for example, health disparities can be investigated by varying the race or ethnicity of the healthcare provider or patient, and the reactions of the test subject (who is in the other role) can be measured. In one study focusing on obesity, IVETA has been used as a behavioral measure for parents by allowing them to pick food for their children from a virtual-reality buffet and then measuring responses. This same approach could also be used to design a simulation for measuring a patient's own food choices.
In another example, a virtual-reality classroom was created to assess attention performance among children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Such a simulation allowed researchers to administer realistic but controlled distractions (e.g., a bus driving by outside or a classmate whispering to another child at pre-determined intervals) while child subjects were being studied. Researchers were also able to determine where in the classroom the child was looking throughout the assessment. Analyses of the data collected through this work are ongoing.
From left to right: Virtual doctor, virtual buffet and virtual patient.
This past year, the IVETA team undertook an initiative to widen the behavioral research tools being made available to investigators. They engaged in a horizon-scanning exercise and also held a series of meetings to discuss potential areas for expansion. In these meetings, they engaged both SBRB stakeholders as well as experts in behavioral science and information technology. Based on this effort, IVETA plans to expand its capacity to allow for other measurements that might complement wearable biosensors (such as those that capture participants' real-time cardiovascular activity). Additionally, the IVETA team is now evaluating the possible addition of automated analyses of facial expressions using webcam technology.
It is exciting to have something as novel as IVETA in NHGRI's Intramural Research Program. There are very few such 'immersive virtual reality' behavioral research laboratories in the world, and none that additionally focus on genomics. For more information about our IVETA program, see genome.gov/27559802.
Partnership for Community Outreach and Engagement in Genomics Infographic
NHGRI's Partnership for Community Outreach and Engagement in Genomics recently released a new infographic entitled Your Genome & You, which depicts some basic concepts about genetics and genomics for a public audience. The pictorialized lesson explains genetics, traits, and health, aiming to convey fundamental information about the importance of genetics and genomics in our everyday lives. For example, one of the sections of the infographic explains how the environment can influence how genes function. The Partnership for Community Outreach and Engagement in Genomics was established in 2014, and brings together community liaisons, health advocates, and health practitioners that together represent diverse populations. Their dedication to promoting a public understanding of genomics has been steadfast, and this infographic is a great addition to their previous and ongoing work. To access the infographic, see genome.gov/27564315.
NIH Scientists Discover Genetic Cause of Rare Allergy to Vibration
NIH Researchers Identify Striking Genomic Signature Shared by Five Types of Cancer
Tick Genome Reveals Secrets of a Successful Bloodsucker
Study Shows DNA Sequencing Brings Greater Precision to Childhood Cancer
A New Tool in the Toolbox: New Method Traces Free-Floating DNA Back to Its Source
Creative Minds: Bacteria, Gene Swaps, and Human Cancer
Fearfulness Changes Impact of Genomic Information in Overweight Women
Neanderthal DNA Has Subtle but Significant Impact on Human Traits
Individuals' Medical Histories Predicted by Their Noncoding Genomes
Lyme Disease: Gene Signatures May Catch the Infection SoonerInvestigating How the Genome Works, One Cell at a Time
Schizophrenia: Ancient Scrolls, Genomic Sequencing and Synaptic Pruning
NIH and FDA Request Public Comment on Draft Clinical Trial Template for Phase 2 and 3 IND/IDE Studies
Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program Solicitation for Samples for Whole Genome Sequencing
NIH Director's Pioneer Award Program
The Big Data Quest to Treat Every Disease
Associate NIH Director for Biomedical Information Resources
Testimony on the FY2017 Budget Request Before the House Committee
Unlocking Life's Code: March 2016 Newsletter
National DNA Day: Improving Genomic Literacy on a National Scale
NIH Leadership Co-Authors a Science Correspondence about the Importance of Basic Research
Blue Ribbon Panel Announced to Help Guide Vice President Biden's National Cancer Moonshot Initiative
Redesigned NIH Grants and Funding Site
Clarifications and Consolidated Biosketch Instructions and Format Pages Available for Applications with Due Dates on or After May 25, 2016
Reminder: NIH & AHRQ Grant Application Changes for Due Dates on or After May 25, 2016
National DNA Day Twitter Chat #DNADay16 - April 25
Genomic Medicine IX Meeting: Bedside to Bench - Mind the Gaps - April 19-20
Genomes and Big Data: A Personal View - Ewan Birney
Chronic Kidney Disease: A Window into Understanding Health Disparities - Neil Powe
Current Topics in Genome Analysis 2016
Models and Data in Biomedicine: What's Real and What's Noise? And, Why Should We Care? - Carlos Bustamante
Future Directions for Undiagnosed Diseases Research: UDN and Beyond
Origins of the Human Genome Project: A Political History - Bob Cook-Deegan
Translating the Cancer Genome: Transforming Cancer Care - Elaine Mardis
Past editions of The Genomics Landscape can be accessed at Director's Page Archive
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Last Updated: April 5, 2016
Posted: August 4, 2008