Fostering Responsible Research on Ancient DNA

Jennifer K. Wagner, Chip Colwell, Katrina G. Claw, Anne C. Stone, Deborah A. Bolnick, John Hawks, Kyle B. Brothers, Nanibaa’ A. Garrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anticipating and addressing the social implications of scientific work is a fundamental responsibility of all scientists. However, expectations for ethically sound practices can evolve over time as the implications of science come to be better understood. Contemporary researchers who work with ancient human remains, including those who conduct ancient DNA research, face precisely this challenge as it becomes clear that practices such as community engagement are needed to address the important social implications of this work. To foster and promote ethical engagement between researchers and communities, we offer five practical recommendations for ancient DNA researchers: (1) formally consult with communities; (2) address cultural and ethical considerations; (3) engage communities and support capacity building; (4) develop plans to report results and manage data; and (5) develop plans for long-term responsibility and stewardship. Ultimately, every member of a research team has an important role in fostering ethical research on ancient DNA. To realize the benefits of human genetics and genomics research, ASHG believes researchers should understand and integrate important ethical, legal, and social considerations into their professional practices. To support these efforts, ASHG will be producing and approving formal guidance documents on a variety of topics. This guidance on ancient DNA research was developed by the ASHG Responsible Ancient DNA Research Working Group, led by members of the ASHG Professional Practice and Social Implications Committee and engaging others with relevant subject matter expertise. It was approved by the ASHG Board of Directors for publication in April 2020, and the Board thanks the group for its time and engagement. Anticipating and addressing the social implications of scientific work is a fundamental responsibility of all scientists. However, expectations for ethically sound practices can evolve over time as the implications of science come to be better understood. Contemporary researchers who work with ancient human remains, including those who conduct ancient DNA research, face precisely this challenge as it becomes clear that practices such as community engagement are needed to address the important social implications of this work. To foster and promote ethical engagement between researchers and communities, we offer five practical recommendations for ancient-DNA researchers: (1) formally consult with communities; (2) address cultural and ethical considerations; (3) engage communities and support capacity building; (4) develop plans to report results and manage data; and (5) develop plans for long-term responsibility and stewardship. Ultimately, every member of a research team has an important role in fostering ethical research on ancient DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-195
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Volume107
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 6 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Fostering Responsible Research on Ancient DNA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this