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Position Statements

1) Stem Cell Research (Adopted September 13, 2005)

The Human Genetics Association of New Jersey is comprised of physicians, laboratory directors, researchers, genetic counselors, nurses, other health care providers and interested parties.  Our members provide care to many of New Jersey’s citizens who seek treatment for, or diagnosis of, genetic conditions. 

Whereas stem cell research will potentially benefit all members of our diverse society, the membership of the Human Genetics Association of New Jersey supports stem cell research as a vital avenue toward the treatment and understanding of a wide variety of inherited and acquired conditions.  Research has shown that interventions for genetic conditions, cancer, traumatic injury and age-related disorders are among the promising areas in which stem cell research could dramatically improve the quality of life for many people.

Along with the American Society of Human Genetics, the National Society of Genetic Counselors and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, the Human Genetics Association of New Jersey supports:
• The creation of a variety of stem cell lines and research in stem cell therapies in an effort to benefit our diverse population.
• The development of ethical and legal guidelines to ensure adequate privacy and safety for participants, fair and equitable access to therapies resulting from stem cell research, and voluntary participation.
• Federal funding for research and development of stem cell therapies.
• Efforts to increase the public’s understanding of the potential benefits of stem cell research and resultant therapies.
As direct providers of care to citizens of New Jersey who could potentially receive life-improving treatment as a result of stem cell research, we, the members of the Human Genetics Association of New Jersey support and promote the development of stem cell research.

2) NJ State Licensure for Genetic Counselors (Adopted May 9, 2006)
The Human Genetics Association of New Jersey is in support of the Genetic Counselor's Licensing Act (bill A2331 in 2006-2007
Legislative Session).

• Why is this bill important?
o Every day scientists are identifying genes that cause disease, predispose to disease and even protect from disease.  The field of genetic science is rapidly evolving and directly affecting the lives of individuals in the State of New Jersey. Genetic counselors are highly trained medical professionals who can understand the complexity of this information and translate it for the general public. 
• What is genetic counseling?

o Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease.
The genetic counseling process integrates the following components:
o collection and interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence
o education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research
o counseling to promote informed choices and adaptation to the risk or condition
Multiple specialty areas exist in which genetic counselors are employed including:
o prenatal
o infertility
o pediatric
o public health
o adult medicine
o oncology
o clinical laboratories
o research laboratories
A genetic counselor's responsibilities within the hiring organization may vary by specialty area; however, all genetic counselors abide by the National Society of Genetic Counselors practice recommendations and code of ethics.
• How does licensure protect the public?

o It is imperative that those providing genetic counseling be licensed professionals to ensure a standard of practice, education and qualification. This is a public health issue. Licensure for these professionals will contribute to protecting the public from the harms of substandard service that can lead to genetic misinformation and genetic discrimination.  Licensure creates clear education, certification and continuing education standards for genetic counseling and will allow consumers to better identify who is an adequately trained practitioner.

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