GEM Research Themes

Test tubes.

GEM research in both the sciences and the humanities focuses on a range of questions surrounding the interactions of the genome, the microbiome and the environment. To that end, GEM supports world-class academic research in the sciences and humanities that seeks to answer the "big questions" through a variety of methods.

Research Themes

1. Biology of Development and Disease

What can we learn about human development and disease through study of the genome and microbiome?

2. Environmental Factors and Human Health

How do environmental exposures—including the stress and poor nutrition associated with poverty—alter the genome and the microbiome and how does variation in the genome and the microbiome modulate environmental contributions to health and disease? Can we minimize risk for disease in susceptible populations?

3. Personalized Medicine

How can we be confident that specific genomic/microbiomic information is relevant to human health? How can we ensure equitable access to personalized medicine?

4. Ethical, Legal and Social Implications

How will access to an individual’s genome and microbiome sequence be equitably regulated? How will this influence decisions about insurance or opportunities for employment? Who owns genomic information?

5. Altering Humans Through Genome Engineering

When genome engineering becomes possible, to whom will it be available? What are the implications for justice and equity with regard to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and differences in physical or intellectual attributes?  Will alteration of our genome be a necessary response to global warming?

6. What Makes Us Human?

Does our humanity reside in or transcend our genome and/or our microbiome?