NINR Marks 20th Anniversary of Summer Genetics Institute
This summer, NINR celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Summer Genetics Institute (SGI) with a virtual scientific symposium titled “Omics to Advance Symptom Science Research.” Over the past two decades, SGI has provided nurse scientists with a foundation in molecular genetics appropriate for use in research and clinical practice. The anniversary symposium brought together more than 1,000 attendees from across the NIH community, academia and beyond to examine how omics methodologies are improving symptom measurement and characterization.
Then-acting NINR director Dr. Tara Schwetz opened the symposium by welcoming attendees and providing a brief background of the SGI, citing the program’s goal since its inception: “To ensure that nurse scientists have a comprehensive understanding of genetics and genomics, including state-of-the-art technologies and clinical applications to inform research programs.”
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins delivered opening remarks, highlighting the importance of genomics in nursing, reaffirming his belief that “through education, research and clinical applications, nurses can accelerate the pace of integrating genomics into options for care, thereby contributing significantly to reshaping and optimizing health care.”
The symposium featured presentations from leading nurse researchers including keynote speaker Dr. Christine Miaskowski, professor and vice chair for research at the University of California, San Francisco, who discussed the use of omics to understand oncology patient symptoms. She also touched on the importance of genetics and genomics in nursing research as a catalyst for risk factor identification, providing fundamental knowledge about the mechanisms of disease and symptoms and identifying therapeutic targets.
Dr. Yvette Conley, professor and vice chair for research at the University of Pittsburgh, reviewed using omics to understand outcomes after neurological injury and Dr. Angela Starkweather, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut, described the genomics of the transition from acute to chronic pain. The speakers also discussed their involvement with SGI, their career trajectories and perspectives on the future of omics in translational programs of research and clinical care.
Acting scientific director Dr. Terri Armstrong closed the symposium and highlighted key papers that have helped build the framework for genomic nursing research and competencies.
She described a paradigm shift where approaches used in nursing and medicine are now interconnected. Genomic research can be used to study both the human response—a nursing approach—with the association with disease—an approach used in medicine.
Today, nearly 450 SGI graduates are making a difference in communities across the country—building programs of nursing research in genetics, disseminating the results of genetics-related research in peer-reviewed scientific publications and at scientific conferences and integrating genetics content in nursing school curricula and nursing practice.