DNA on loan: issues to consider when carrying out genetic research with aboriginal families and communities

Community Genet. 2006;9(3):153-60. doi: 10.1159/000092651.


In the current research milieu where genetic etiology is considered a critical component in the discovery of pathogenesis, aboriginal families and communities affected with genetic conditions may be considered as research participants. However, because of concerns about the impact of genetic information and historical harmful research practices, some aboriginal communities have considerable unease when faced with this prospect. Therefore, in the circumstance that genetics is considered an important part of research inquiry by aboriginal families and communities, there needs to be assurance that the research will be carried out according to mutual expectations. A research relationship that respects aboriginal individuals and communities within their culture and is in keeping with their values is essential. This respect extends to the use of biological samples, considering the DNA to be 'on loan' to the researcher for the purpose of the research for which consent was obtained. This paper will explore practical ways of maintaining a respectful research relationship when genetics research with aboriginal people is undertaken.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Genetic Research*
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / genetics*
  • Inuits / genetics*


  • DNA