Genomics innovations have increasing impact on individuals and society. In cancer genomics new innovations related to prevention, diagnosis and treatment increasingly change daily routines in academic research, medical practice (diagnostic lab, doctor‐patient communication), and everyday life. To further public dialogue on cancer genomics, members of these different communities of practice, i.e. scientists, physicians and patients, should be enabled to learn from each other. Yet, communication and sharing of knowledge may be problematic due to differences in value systems and knowledge modes, i.e. academic, professional and experiential. Our main research question is: How do relevant stakeholders in cancer genomics view one’s own and each others role in public dialogue and how can these views be translated to find common ground for communication. Recently, we conducted a case study on a public event on cancer genomics that brought together 1400 participants, mainly (ex‐)patients and medical professionals. Data were collected by interviews with participants, observation of the actual communication processes and a written questionnaire to evaluate the event. The event proved to be successful in terms of raising awareness of new developments in cancer genomics research. However, achieving dialogue in practice proved to be not self‐evident and needs commitment at the institutional as well as the interpersonal level. Starting with key learning points from this experience, our paper describes the follow‐up of this case study and takes up the challenge to find the common ground for communication between different communities of practice. We articulate the conceptual and normative elements of this common ground based on interviews with stakeholders: genomics scientists, physicians and patients. This provides indications for empowering scientists and medical professionals to reflect on the social and ethical dimensions of their work and to participate in public dialogue.

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Finding common ground for public dialogue on cancer genomics research

Roald Verhoeff   Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education

Arend Waarlo   Freudenthal Institute for Science and Mathematics Education

Genomics innovations have increasing impact on individuals and society. In cancer genomics new innovations related to prevention, diagnosis and treatment increasingly change daily routines in academic research, medical practice (diagnostic lab, doctor‐patient communication), and everyday life. To further public dialogue on cancer genomics, members of these different communities of practice, i.e. scientists, physicians and patients, should be enabled to learn from each other. Yet, communication and sharing of knowledge may be problematic due to differences in value systems and knowledge modes, i.e. academic, professional and experiential. Our main research question is: How do relevant stakeholders in cancer genomics view one’s own and each others role in public dialogue and how can these views be translated to find common ground for communication. Recently, we conducted a case study on a public event on cancer genomics that brought together 1400 participants, mainly (ex‐)patients and medical professionals. Data were collected by interviews with participants, observation of the actual communication processes and a written questionnaire to evaluate the event. The event proved to be successful in terms of raising awareness of new developments in cancer genomics research. However, achieving dialogue in practice proved to be not self‐evident and needs commitment at the institutional as well as the interpersonal level. Starting with key learning points from this experience, our paper describes the follow‐up of this case study and takes up the challenge to find the common ground for communication between different communities of practice. We articulate the conceptual and normative elements of this common ground based on interviews with stakeholders: genomics scientists, physicians and patients. This provides indications for empowering scientists and medical professionals to reflect on the social and ethical dimensions of their work and to participate in public dialogue.

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