Public trust and 'ethics review' as a commodity: the case of Genomics England Limited and the UK's 100,000 genomes project.
Samuel GN., Farsides B.
The UK Chief Medical Officer's 2016 Annual Report, Generation Genome, focused on a vision to fully integrate genomics into all aspects of the UK's National Health Service (NHS). This process of integration, which has now already begun, raises a wide range of social and ethical concerns, many of which were discussed in the final Chapter of the report. This paper explores how the UK's 100,000 Genomes Project (100 kGP)-the catalyst for Generation Genome, and for bringing genomics into the NHS-is negotiating these ethical concerns. The UK's 100 kGP, promoted and delivered by Genomics England Limited (GEL), is an innovative venture aiming to sequence 100,000 genomes from NHS patients who have a rare disease, cancer, or an infectious disease. GEL has emphasised the importance of ethical governance and decision-making. However, some sociological critique argues that biomedical/technological organisations presenting themselves as 'ethical' entities do not necessarily reflect a space within which moral thinking occurs. Rather, the 'ethical work' conducted (and displayed) by organisations is more strategic, relating to the politics of the organisation and the need to build public confidence. We set out to explore whether GEL's ethical framework was reflective of this critique, and what this tells us more broadly about how genomics is being integrated into the NHS in response to the ethical and social concerns raised in Generation Genome. We do this by drawing on a series of 20 interviews with individuals associated with or working at GEL.