Genomic testing in healthcare: a hybrid space where clinical practice and research need to co-exist.
Horton R., Lucassen A.
Introduction: Clinical practice and research are traditionally seen as distinct activities that are governed by different principles and processes. Innovative technologies such as genomic testing challenge this model, involving many activities that cannot be easily categorized as purely research, or purely clinical care. Areas covered: We discuss the interdependence of research and clinical practice in the context of genomics, for example, when determining the significance of rare genetic variants, or diagnosing newly described rare diseases. We highlight the potential of the symbiotic relationship between clinical practice and research. Expert opinion: In the context of genomics, it is not appropriate to treat clinical practice and research as entirely separable. Forcing binary categorization of activities as one or the other risks losing the many benefits that derive from their integration. We need to explore the hybrid area where clinical practice and research coincide, developing governance that allows us to maximize its potential, rather than insisting that hybrid clinical-research activities conform to processes built for 'pure clinical practice' or 'pure research'. We argue the need for a renegotiation of the contract around genomic testing, recognizing, valuing and facilitating the hybrid space where clinical practice and research co-exist.