A novel 'social contract' - An attempt to harmonize a sponsor's exploratory research with a clinical study participant's data rights

Contemp Clin Trials. 2022 Aug:119:106819. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2022.106819. Epub 2022 Jun 9.


Background: Pharmaceutical drug development rarely addresses a study participant's control of their genomic data, how to return individual incidental findings, and how to make use of genomic data more efficiently for exploratory research purposes. Mutually beneficial solutions to these issues are needed, as whole genome sequencing (WGS) is increasingly adopted in human research and as access to such information could provide impactful health-related information for a participant.

Methods: In this paper, we offer a novel framework to align a trial sponsor's need for broad exploratory research of the human genome with the study participant's right to data access and access control. The Exploratory Genetic Research Project (EGRP) aims to gather WGS on all participants of a sponsor's clinical trials. It is set up as a separate umbrella protocol to facilitate the consenting process, as well as the delineation between clinical trial endpoints versus exploratory future research.

Conclusion: This concept establishes a participant's autonomy regarding access to genomic data and the disclosure of actionable incidental findings. The feasibility of EGRP will be tested and reassessed as it is deployed over the next few years.

Keywords: Confidentiality; Control of access; Data access; Data disclosure; Exploratory research; Future; Incidental findings; Privacy; Unspecified; Whole genome sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contracts
  • Disclosure*
  • Genome, Human
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Patient Rights*
  • Research Design