Personal Genetics Education Project

6th Congressional Briefing

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6th Congressional Briefing

May 15, 2018

pgEd is excited to return to Washington, DC! We will be hosting a pair of briefings on Capitol Hill, one on the House side and one on the Senate side.


The Common Thread: What genetics tells us about ancestry, health, and personal identity

A Congressional briefing
Organized by the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgEd), Harvard Medical School
In cooperation with the offices of Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Bill Foster

May 15, 2018 
12:00-1:30pm, Congressional Visitors Center, Room HVC 201 (Lunch provided)
3:00-4:30pm, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50 (Refreshments provided)

Advances in genetics are producing new tools for investigating commonalities and differences across human populations, with implications for precision medicine, racial identity, and beyond. They are improving our understanding of how a person’s DNA, together with the environment, contributes to health, disease susceptibility, and response to medications. In addition, DNA ancestry testing is providing people with a new lens for examining family history. In this briefing, a panel of expert scientists will explore these topics as they relate to ethnicity and race. Speakers will also address misconceptions of genetic determinism, the profound impact of the environment (e.g., diet, living conditions, and life experiences), the history of eugenics, and the role of public awareness and dialog in the coming era of personal genetics and gene editing.


Eimear Kenny, PhD – Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genome Science; Member of The Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine; Member of The Center for Statistical Genetics; Member of The Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Charles Rotimi, PhD – Senior Investigator of the Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health

Kerry Ressler, MD, PhD – Chief Scientific Officer & James and Patricia Poitras Chair in Psychiatry, McLean Hospital; Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

George Church, PhD – Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School and MIT; Director of an NIH Center of Excellence in Genomic Science; Director of the Personal Genome Project


Welcome & opening remarks (Fabienne Mondesir, Director of Community Engagement, pgEd)

The history of human populations: a genetics perspective (Eimear Kenny)

How health is shaped by genes, ancestry, and environment (Charles Rotimi)

Biology of behavior: Genetics and beyond (Kerry Ressler)

Learning from the past: Towards an era of genetics with benefits for all (George Church)

Roundtable discussion with panelists



Ample time will be allotted for discussion, and speakers will be available for informal conversations to follow.


RSVP online at For any question, please contact Marnie Gelbart at


May 15, 2018
Event Category:


Capitol Hill
DC United States + Google Map