The decreasing cost of genomic sequencing will yield millions of samples in the coming years from both
research and healthcare. Sharing this data is necessary to understand human diseases and eventually help
patients, but doing so requires the community to agree on common methods for collecting, storing, transferring,
accessing, and analyzing data. This proposal will support the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health
(GA4GH; www.ga4gh.org) to aid genomic research and human health by developing standards and policies for
effective and responsible data sharing between institutions and countries around the world.
To advance responsible sharing of global genomic and health-related data, genomics researchers,
clinicians, bioinformaticians, software engineers, and industry experts will work together as a single GA4GH
community to deliver genomic data sharing standards and frameworks (e.g., ontologies, guidelines, technical
schemas). Building on our five years of experience convening stakeholders and developing work products, we
will engage the genomics and health community in the very earliest stages of development to ensure our work
is useful and ready for adoption.
We will leverage the combined effort of several hundred active contributors to advance development
activities beyond the capacity of our small staff team. These contributors will work within eight GA4GH Work
Streams, each focused on developing critical standards and frameworks, including cloud-based data
federation, scalable schemas and interfaces, data models, and file formats. We will engage deeply within the
broader healthcare, research, and commercial sectors, including the launch of the Genomics in Health
Implementation Forum to drive uptake in the clinical domain.
A federated ecosystem for searching, discovering, exchanging, and analyzing genomic and clinical data
will enable a global learning health system that advances both research and clinical care beyond their
individual capacities and depends on standards and interoperable frameworks embraced by the entire
community. We envision a future in which the full suite of GA4GH standards enables all clinicians, geneticists,
and researchers to search across the world’s collective genomic data to reveal unanticipated gene-disease
associations, make otherwise impossible drug-response predictions, and generally participate in genomics at a
competitive pace—regardless of their means or location. The promise of genomic medicine lies at a
crossroads that depends on harmonization across the community and will significantly enhance the human
experience if we succeed. We believe that GA4GH is necessary to that success.