Purpose

The Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) Consortium encompasses nine National Institutes of Health-funded U-award projects investigating translation of genomic sequencing into clinical care. Previous literature has distinguished norms and rules governing research versus clinical care. This is the first study to explore how genomics investigators describe and navigate the research-clinical interface.

Methods

A CSER working group developed a 22-item survey. All nine U-award projects participated. Descriptive data were tabulated and qualitative analysis of text responses identified themes and characterizations of the research-clinical interface.

Results

Survey responses described how studies approached the research-clinical interface, including in consent practices, recording results, and using a research versus clinical laboratory. Responses revealed four characterizations of the interface: clear separation between research and clinical care, interdigitation of the two with steps to maintain separation, a dynamic interface, and merging of the two. All survey respondents utilized at least two different characterizations. Although research has traditionally been differentiated from clinical care, respondents pointed to factors blurring the distinction and strategies to differentiate the domains.

Conclusion

These results illustrate the difficulty in applying the traditional bifurcation of research versus clinical care to translational models of clinical research, including in genomics. Our results suggest new directions for ethics and oversight.