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Bridging the gap

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Science  28 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6409, pp. 1304-1307
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6409.1304

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Summary

For centuries, tensions have run high between Western scientists and Indigenous communities around the world. Scientists have used Indigenous samples without permission, disregarded their customs around the dead, and resisted returning samples, data, and human remains to individuals and communities that claim them. Indigenous communities have often responded by severely restricting scientists' sampling of their bodies and their ancestors, even as genomics has boomed, with increasing relevance for health. Now, the Summer Internship for Indigenous Peoples in Genomics (SING) is trying to improve that relationship. SING aims to train Indigenous scientists in genomics so that they can introduce that field's tools to their communities as well as bring a sorely needed Indigenous perspective to research. The program has created a strong community of Indigenous scientists and non-Indigenous allies who are raising the profile of these ethical issues and developing ways to improve a historically fraught relationship.