Commentary

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  • Genetic variants have been associated with myriad molecular phenotypes that provide new insight into the range of mechanisms underlying genetic traits and diseases. Identifying any particular genetic variant's cascade of effects, from molecule to individual, requires assaying multiple layers of molecular complexity. We introduce the Enhancing GTEx (eGTEx) project that extends the GTEx project to combine gene expression with additional intermediate molecular measurements on the same tissues to provide a resource for studying how genetic differences cascade through molecular phenotypes to impact human health.

    • Barbara E Stranger
    • Lori E Brigham
    • Stephen B Montgomery
    Commentary
  • Sanwen Huang, Detlef Weigel, Roger Beachy and Jiayang Li propose a regulatory framework for precision breeding with genome-edited crops. They argue that society should benefit from the latest advances in plant genetics and genomics.

    • Sanwen Huang
    • Detlef Weigel
    • Jiayang Li
    Commentary
  • Paul Flicek and colleagues provide an update on the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA), a service of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Center for Genome Regulation (CRG). The authors describe the EGA policies and infrastructure, how access decisions are made, methods for data submission and future plans for expansion of this database.

    • Ilkka Lappalainen
    • Jeff Almeida-King
    • Paul Flicek
    Commentary Open Access
  • Dina Paltoo, Laura Lyman Rodriguez, Michael Feolo and colleagues present their analysis of the usefulness and impact of the first seven years of data sharing via the dbGaP repository and announce the extension of data-sharing provisions to other types of research funded by the NIH.

    • Dina N Paltoo
    • Laura Lyman Rodriguez
    • Eric D Green
    Commentary Open Access
  • Larsson Omberg and colleagues write a Commentary describing the collaborative model used by the Pan-Cancer Working Group of The Cancer Genome Atlas. Pan-Cancer members used the Synapse software platform to share and evolve data, results and methods to perform integrative analyses of genome-wide molecular data for 12 cancer types.

    • Larsson Omberg
    • Kyle Ellrott
    • Adam A Margolin
    Commentary Open Access
  • Current clinical practice is organized according to tissue or organ of origin of tumors. Now, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network has started to identify genomic and other molecular commonalities among a dozen different types of cancer. Emerging similarities and contrasts will form the basis for targeted therapies of the future and for repurposing existing therapies by molecular rather than histological similarities of the diseases.

    • Kyle Chang
    • Chad J Creighton
    • Joshua M Stuart
    Commentary Open Access
  • Colleen McBride and colleagues argue that progress on a multifaceted research agenda is necessary to reap the full benefits and avoid the potential pitfalls of the emerging area of personalized genomics. They also outline one element of this agenda, the Multiplex Initiative, which has been underway since 2006.

    • Colleen M McBride
    • Sharon Hensley Alford
    • Lawrence C Brody
    Commentary
  • It has been four years since the original publication of the draft sequence of the rat genome. Five groups are now working together to assemble, annotate and release an updated version of the rat genome. As the prevailing model for physiology, complex disease and pharmacological studies, there is an acute need for the rat's genomic resources to keep pace with the rat's prominence in the laboratory. In this commentary, we describe the current status of the rat genome sequence and the plans for its impending 'upgrade'. We then cover the key online resources providing access to the rat genome, including the new SNP views at Ensembl, the RefSeq and Genes databases at the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, Genome Browser at the University of California Santa Cruz and the disease portals for cardiovascular disease and obesity at the Rat Genome Database.

    • Simon N Twigger
    • Kim D Pruitt
    • Howard J Jacob
    Commentary
  • Medical genetics involves the application of genetic knowledge and technology to specific clinical and epidemiologic concerns. Using genetics to benefit society requires that empirically verified knowledge be used within an ethical framework that combines appeal to written precedent with sensitivity to the options of individuals and families dealing with choices and necessities within the laws, norms and traditions of their society. Islamic bioethics is derived from a combination of principles, duties and rights, and to a certain extent a call to virtue, ihsan. It emphasizes prevention, and it teaches that the patient must be treated with respect and compassion and that the physical, mental and spiritual dimensions of the illness experience must be taken into account. Strategic planning for the prevention and care of genetic disorders, and for genomic research, within the context of Islamic religion and culture is promising and may provide lessons to the developed world. Islamic bioethics provides fundamental principles for genetic counseling, particularly in regard to consanguinity, which was part of the Arabian culture long before Islam but which was discouraged by the second Islamic khalifa. These fundamental principles are important for implementing many preventive and genomic research programs and for maintaining flexibility to respond to new biomedical technologies.

    • Aida I Al Aqeel
    Commentary