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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ Overview

General Information

What is genomics and why is it relevant to public health?

What is an APHA Forum?

What is the Genomics Forum?

Why was the Genomics Forum created?

What is the Genomics Forum’s mission?

Who joins the Genomics Forum?

Why should I join the Genomics Forum?

How can I become a member of the Genomics Forum?

What if I’m already in an APHA Section or SPIG?

Is there a cost involved in joining the Genomics Forum?

What is the time commitment involved in joining the Genomics Forum?

Can my organization join the Genomics Forum or is it only for individuals?

Getting Involved in the Genomics Forum

Is there a board or committee?

How can I get involved in Genomics Forum activities?

Why should I join a committee?

Committee-Specific Information

Membership/Communications Committee

What does the Membership/Communications Committee do?

How can I get involved in the Membership/Communications Committee?

Policy Committee

What does the Policy Committee do?

How can I get involved in the Policy Committee?

How can I get involved in the APHA policy process?

Program Committee

Does the Forum sponsor sessions at the APHA annual meeting?

How do I submit an abstract?

How do I submit a panel?

What does the Program Committee do?

How can I get involved in the Program Committee?

Work Groups

What are Work Groups?

What resources are available for Work Groups?

General Information

  What is genomics and why is it relevant to public health?

   Genomics is the study of a person’s genetic information and the interactions of their genes with each other and a person’s environment. The information gained from studying the interactions between genes and the environment will enable us to develop improvements in healthcare and disease prevention for individuals and populations.  Genomics is important to public health because although we may differ in appearance, we are all 99.9% genetically identical. Differences in the remaining 0.1% of the genome hold important clues about health and disease that may help us learn why some people get sick from certain infections, environmental factors, and behaviors, while others do not.

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 What is an APHA Forum?

   A Forum is a structure within the American Public Health Association (APHA) that addresses cross-cutting health issues and facilitates communication across Sections and SPIGs (Special Primary Interest Groups). APHA Forums sponsor annual business meetings, scientific sessions and provide networking opportunities. Individuals who join APHA Forums can remain a member of their existing Section(s) or SPIG(s).

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What is the Genomics Forum?

   Officially approved in November 2007, the Genomics Forum is a growing, interdisciplinary group of individuals, focused on different aspects of public health. Because genetics and genomics have an increasing influence on the everyday life of many Americans, we are is interested in determining how these scientific concepts will be used to affect the health of populations.

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 Why was the Genomics Forum created?

   The predictive nature of genetics/genomics parallels the preventive health goals of public health agencies throughout the nation. However, most public health agencies are not aware of how genetics/genomics can be used as a tool to improve health. The Genomics Forum was created to respond to the need to educate the current and future public health workforce so they understand the basics of genetics/genomics and the implications of this field.

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 What is the Genomics Forum’s mission?

   Our goal is to equip public health professionals with the tools necessary to provide communities with appropriately designed information that will promote good health in the context of genetic information, and make sure that genetic information is used to decrease and not increase health disparities of all types (income, education, ethnicity, etc.).

   The Forum will focus on this integration of genomics into public health. This Forum will also allow APHA to show a firm commitment to ensuring that public health principles are integrated into genomics practice and research. For example, multiple government agencies are placing substantial funds into clinical applications such as pharmacogenomics (i.e. personalized medicine). In order to make sure that personalized medicine means public medicine, APHA must be at the forefront of conversations about how genetics/genomics will be used to improve the health of people in America and worldwide. The Genomics Forum will contribute to ensuring that this happens.

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Who joins the Genomics Forum?

   Everyone who has an interest in public health, particularly within the fields of genetics and genomics, is encouraged to join the Genomics Forum. You do not need to be a current member of APHA to join the Genomics Forum. Currently, the Genomics Forum consists of an interdisciplinary group of individuals within public health such as practitioners, researchers, and community members from state and federal governmental agencies, advocacy groups, academia, and healthcare organizations. 

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 Why should I join the Genomics Forum?

   Being a part of the Genomics Forum is a great way to play an active role in shaping how genetics and genomics are integrated and represented not only within APHA, but in general throughout the field of public health.  Furthermore, as the Genomics Forum attracts an assortment of professionals from various sectors of public health, joining provides both members and non-members a vast, interdisciplinary network of individuals engaged within genomics and public health communities. As a member you will be able to communicate with other professionals via e-mail listserv, monthly/bi-weekly conference calls, and through our website. In addition to the business meeting to be held at APHA each year, we sponsor scientific sessions, and may develop projects in education, policy development, advocacy, research, or other areas, depending on the needs and interests of our members.

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 How can I become a member of the Genomics Forum?

   Sign up today at:  http://genomicsforum.org/index.php?page=Join

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 Do I have to be a member of APHA to join the Genomics Forum?

   No, you do not have to be a member of APHA to join the Genomics Forum. 

   Although you do not have to be a member of APHA, there are several APHA membership categories that offer opportunities for engagement within APHA at multiple levels. Furthermore, memberships dues are reasonable and help support APHA overall.

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 What if I’m already in an APHA section or SPIG?

   Current APHA members are welcome to join and you can remain a member of your Section or SPIG. As the Genomics Forum works to increase collaboration among the APHA Sections, SPIGs, Caucuses, and State Affiliates to promote workforce competency in genomics as well as an improved understanding of the relevance and impact of genomics on public health, Genomics Forum members who have concurrent APHA section or SPIG membership can help to foster networking opportunities that benefit everyone both within the Genomics Forum and APHA.

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Is there a cost involved in joining the Genomics Forum?

   No, joining the Genomics Forum is free, regardless of whether you are an APHA member.

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 What is the time commitment involved in joining the Genomics Forum?

   There are no time commitments required to join the Genomics Forum.  However, if you wish to take a more active role within the Genomics Forum, there are several avenues by which you can do so, such as:

  • Joining one (or more) of the Genomics Forum sub-committees (see Committee Specific Questions)
  • Participating in General Membership Conference Calls
  • Sending genomics related information about events, presentations, publications, etc. to be distributed to the Genomics Forum listserv
  • Participating in the Genomics Forum business meeting at the APHA Annual Meeting and perhaps running for a leadership position

   Although these are some ways to become involved in the Genomics Forum, by no means do you need to feel “pigeon-holed” into these activities.  The Genomics forum is open to new ideas and innovative means of engagement.

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 Can my organization join the Genomics Forum or is it only for individuals?

   Both individuals and individuals on behalf of an organization can join the Genomics Forum. 

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Getting Involved in the Genomics Forum

 Is there a board or committee?

   The Forum has a Steering Committee that consists of the Chair, Co-Chair and Secretary, as well as the Chairs and Co-Chairs of each of the Forum sub-committees:

  • Membership / Communications
  • Program
  • Policy

To contact any of the Genomics Forum leaders go here.

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 How can I get involved in Genomics Forum activities?

   Genomics Forum members are encouraged to sign up for one or more of the above committees on the Genomics Forum website at http://www.genomicsforum.org/index.php?note2=NewCommittee. You can learn more about each committee on the website or by reading below. In addition, the Steering Committee convenes a minimum of 4 conference calls per year on a quarterly basis that are open to the general membership.

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 Why should I join a committee?

   Joining a committee encourages members to participate in the Genomics Forum.  It is through committee participation that Forum business and projects that fall within the scope of the Genomics Forum are accomplished.  Being a member in a committee provides a niche, where a member can be directly involved in influencing genomics in APHA.  Committees also facilitate professional networking between members of the Forum. 

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Committee-Specific Information

Membership/Communications Committee

 What does the Membership/Communications Committee do?

   The Membership/Communications Committee is responsible for the recruitment and retention of Forum members and maintaining member relations and partnerships with APHA sections, SPIGs and Caucuses.  This committee is also responsible for publicizing and promoting Forum activities via web and print materials, as well as moderate any discussion boards / listservs. In addition, this committee will work with Forum members interested in promoting the Forum at non-APHA events. 

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 How can I get involved in the Membership/Communications Committee?

   You can sign up for the Membership/Communications Committee on the Genomics Forum website at http://www.genomicsforum.org/index.php?note=JoinCommittee.

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Policy Committee

 What does the Policy Committee do?

   The Policy Committee currently has two main functions:

  • To develop policy and process guidelines for the Genomics Forum, such as the mission, vision, leadership structure, and by-laws.
  • Policy development within APHA – the  Policy Committee reviews APHA policies that are relevant to the Forum, and then works with the Joint Policy Committee of APHA to update and rewrite any policies that need revisions. The Policy Committee can also write new policies for APHA as needed.

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 How can I get involved in the Policy Committee?

   You can sign up for the Policy Committee on the Genomics Forum website at http://www.genomicsforum.org/index.php?note=JoinCommittee. Joining ensures access to our listserv.

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 How can I get involved in the APHA policy process?

   To become involved in the APHA policy process, join the Policy Committee to receive emails on current APHA policy projects.  Additionally, when input is needed from the General Membership of the Forum, emails are sent asking for feedback to help the Policy Committee.  Engaging in those dialogues is another great way to be involved.

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Program Committee

 Does the Forum sponsor sessions at the APHA annual meeting?

   Yes, the Genomics Forum sponsors both oral presentations and poster sessions.

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 How do I submit an abstract?

   Abstract submission for the APHA annual meeting can be found online at www.apha.org.  During the submission process, individuals are asked to select the Section, Forum, or Caucus to which they would like their abstract to be submitted for consideration.  By selecting the Genomics Forum, APHA will forward your abstract to us for consideration after successful upload.

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 How do I submit a panel?

   If you are interested in submitting a panel to the Genomics Forum, we ask that speakers submit their abstracts independently.  Once all of the abstracts are submitted, please notify the Program Committee chair via email (current Chair can be found here) and explain the proposed title, theme, and subject matter of the panel, as well as a list of all abstracts that are to be considered for the panel.  The abstracts will be critically and blindly reviewed along with all other abstracts.  Once we have determined which abstracts have been accepted, we will see if enough of the proposed panel’s abstracts were accepted to warrant a full panel.  The Program Committee will then notify proposed panel members as to the acceptance status of the abstracts and discuss options regarding the use of the abstracts as a panel or individual sessions. Please note that abstracts do not receive any special consideration if they are submitted as a proposed panel. 

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 What does the Program Committee do?

   The Program Committee’s main charge is to ensure critical, ethical, and blind reviewing of all abstracts submitted to the Genomics Forum by experts within the public health genomics community.  Upon review, the Program Committee determines which abstracts are acceptable for presentation at the annual APHA meeting, as well as those deemed exceptional and deserving of one of the Genomics Forum’s awards.   The Program Committee is also responsible for the planning of the Forum’s scientific sessions at the APHA meeting.

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 How can I get involved in the Program Committee?

   You can become involved in the Program Committee by either joining the committee itself to help with our responsibilities, as previously described, or you can serve as an abstract reviewer for the next APHA annual meeting.  If you are interested in either of these roles, please email the program committee chair.

In addition, you may sign up for the Program Committee on the Genomics Forum website at http://www.genomicsforum.org/index.php?note=JoinCommittee

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Work Groups

 What are Work Groups?

   Work Groups may take on a number of differing forms.   Each Work Group  focuses on a specific project  related to  the Genomics Forum.   Work Groups meet on a conference call about once every other month.  Please see the individual Work Group descriptions for more information about current projects. 

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What resources are available for Work Groups?

   The committee can provide a number of different resources to individuals or groups wishing to start a new project. First, it can provide opportunities to discuss and develop your idea with other members of the Forum. Second, it can help foster potential multidisciplinary collaborations with other members with similar interests. The Forum may also have resources to help plan and facilitate a project, such as funds for conference calls and other projects expenses. These resources will depend on the availability of funds, the nature of the project and its connection to the goals of the Forum. Lastly, many Forum members have access to, or can help identify, potential resources for work group projects.

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If you have a question that was not answered here, please contact the Forum's Chair, Nicole Exe (nexe@umich.edu or 734-615-0518).