Ethical challenges in autism genomics: Recommendations for researchers

Heini M. Natri, Carolyn R. Chapman, Síofra Heraty, Patrick Dwyer, Nick Walker, Steven K. Kapp, Heather A. Dron, Julian A. Martinez-Agosto, Lea Mikkola, Mary Doherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Equitable and just genetic research and clinical translation require an examination of the ethical questions pertaining to vulnerable and marginalized communities. Autism research and advocate communities have expressed concerns over current practices of genetics research, urging the field to shift towards paradigms and practices that ensure benefits and avoid harm to research participants and the wider autistic community. Building upon a framework of bioethical principles, we provide the background for the concerns and present recommendations for ethically sustainable and justice-oriented genetic and genomic autism research. With the primary goal of enhancing the health, well-being, and autonomy of autistic persons, we make recommendations to guide priority setting, responsible research conduct, and informed consent practices. Further, we discuss the ethical challenges particularly pertaining to research involving highly vulnerable individuals and groups, such as those with impaired cognitive or communication ability. Finally, we consider the clinical translation of autism genetics studies, including the use of genetic testing. These guidelines, developed by an interdisciplinary working group comprising autistic and non-autistic individuals, will aid in leveraging the potential of genetics research to enhance the quality of life of autistic individuals and are widely applicable across stigmatized traits and vulnerable communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104810
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Genetics
Issue number9
Early online date23 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

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