Following the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the availability of high through-put -omics technologies led to the emergence of the concept of 'personalized health interventions'. Among the most prominent -omics technologies that enable personalized health interventions is nutrigenomics, that aims to individualize nutrition based on individual genetic makeup. While nutrigenomics is expected to be implemented in personalize health interventions, there has yet to be produced a comprehensive inventory of associated ethical-legal-social issues (ELSIs). Nor has ethics research on personalized health interventions sufficiently taking into account the unique ELSIs introduced by different -omics technologies (such as nutrigenomics) and the bioscience application context. Nutrigenomics tests for routine clinical use are at an early stage of development while there are intensive nutrigenomics bioscience efforts in both preclinical and clinical research domains. Nutrigenomics has broad public health significance since it focuses on both patients and healthy populations as well as the discernment of nuanced differences in pre-disease states in presently health individuals. The strong public health and preventive medicine focus of nutrigenomics research as well as the day-to-day importance of food in peoples' lives may raise previously unexpected ELSIs. Together with a lack of clear regulatory guidelines, societal expectations towards nutrigenomics are growing rapidly, and in the absence of an evidence-based approach, could exceed the threshold for biohype.
Our goal is to study both technology-specific ELSIs but also the broader range of ethical issues relevant to personalized health interventions, spanning from clinical discoveries/innovation to publication/translation of clinical -omics research data. Such ELSI research that parallels bioscience research is crucial because it can influence and positively shape the development of personalized health interventions and help avoid predictable pitfalls, thus ensuring an effective and ethical application of nutrigenomics in the laboratory, at the clinic and in the evidence-based development of science policy. our research program, by bringing together scientists with complementary and synergistic expertise, also aims to lay a much-needed foundation, one that is necesary to reach a critical mass of committed, interdisciplinary scientists engaged specifically in ELSI research on -omics technologies, and more broadly, in personalized health interventions in Quebec.