The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking experts to serve as members one of the Technical Advisory Group on Genomics. This “Call for experts” provides information about the advisory group in question, the expert profiles being sought, the process to express interest, and the process of selection.
In 2021, WHO Director-General (DG) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus established the Science Council to advise him on WHO’s scientific agenda. At its first meeting, the Science Council identified genomics as the focus of its first report, for a number of compelling reasons, chief among them, the substantial and extensive benefits of genomics for personal and public health. In its report ‘Accelerating access to genomics for global health’, the Science Council made 15 recommendations to the WHO grouped into four categories: Promotion of genomics through advocacy; implementation of genomic methodologies; collaboration among entities engaged in genomics; and attention to the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSIs) raised by genomics. One of the key recommendations of this report was for the WHO to form a genomics advisory group primarily to assess and report annually to the WHO Secretariat on progress in implementing the recommendations from this report. The WHO is now seeking to form a Technical Advisory Group on Genomics in response to this recommendation. The group’s main, but not exclusive, focus will be on human genomics. This Technical Advisory Group will advise the Secretariat on the work in this field.
Functions of the Technical Advisory Group on Genomics
In its capacity as an advisory group to the WHO, the Technical Advisory Group will have the following functions:
- Support and provide technical guidance on activities implemented by the WHO Secretariat to accelerate access to genomics technologies for global health, with a particular focus on human genomics;
- Review and recommend priority activities for consideration by WHO in order to accelerate access to genomics technologies for global health, including promotion and advocacy in addition to technical activities;
- Contribute to, and advise the WHO Secretariat’s on efforts in convening discussions by scientists, policymakers, patient advocates, clinicians, lawyers, ethicists, and others to develop genomics-related guidance and reports;
- Support WHO to bringing attention to regional and sub-regional opportunities and experiences in genomics;
- Contribute to assessing, and report annually to the WHO Secretariat, on progress in accelerating access to genomics for global health;
- Undertake other duties and functions consistent with these Terms of Reference, when requested by the WHO Secretariat.
Operations of the Technical Advisory Group on Genomics
The Technical Advisory Group on Genomics shall meet at least three times each year. However, WHO may convene additional meetings. Meetings may be held in person (at WHO headquarters in Geneva or another location, as determined by WHO) or virtually, via video or teleconference. The working language will be English.
Who can express interest?
The Technical Advisory Group on Genomics will be multidisciplinary, with members who have a range of technical knowledge, skills and experience relevant to Genomics with main, but not exclusive, focus on human genomics. Up to 15 members may be selected.
WHO welcomes expressions of interest from:
Scientists, healthcare professionals, and healthcare regulators with expertise in a diverse set of fields related to genomics (and in particular human genomics), including the following areas
- Cancer, common complex diseases and other non-communicable diseases
- Congenital disorders and rare diseases
- Human genomic variation and host-determinants of infections
- Pharmacogenomics and toxicogenomics
- Human microbiome
- R&D in the field of genome-based knowledge and technologies with a focus on human genomics
- Translation/implementation of genome-based technologies into clinical practice
- Ethics, law, and other relevant social science domains, related to human genomics
- One Health approach to genomics, with a focus on linking human genomics with pathogen and/or environmental genomics
Submitting your expression of interest
To register your interest in being considered for the Technical Advisory Group on Genomics, please submit the following documents by 23:59 Geneva time on 16 July 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line “Expression of interest for the Technical Advisory Group on Genomics”:
- A cover letter, indicating your motivation to apply and how you satisfy the selection criteria. Please note that, if selected, membership will be in a personal capacity. Therefore, do not use the letterhead or other identification of your employer);
- Your curriculum vitae of maximum 2 pages; and
- A signed and completed Declaration of Interests (DOI) form for WHO Experts, available at https://www.who.int/about/ethics/declarations-of-interest.
After submission, your expression of interest will be reviewed by WHO. Due to an expected high volume of interest, only selected individuals will be informed.
Important information about the selection processes and conditions of appointment
Members of WHO advisory groups (AGs) must be free of any real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest. To this end, applicants are required to complete the WHO Declaration of Interests for WHO Experts, and the selection as a member of a AG is, amongst other things, dependent on WHO determining that there is no conflict of interest or that any identified conflicts could be appropriately managed (in addition to WHO’s evaluation of an applicant’s experience, expertise and motivation and other criteria).
All AG members will serve in their individual expert capacity and shall not represent any governments, any commercial industries or entities, any research, academic or civil society organizations, or any other bodies, entities, institutions or organizations. They are expected to fully comply with the Code of Conduct for WHO Experts (https://www.who.int/about/ethics/declarations-of-interest). AG members will be expected to sign and return a completed confidentiality undertaking prior to the beginning of the first meeting.
At any point during the selection process, telephone interviews may be scheduled between an applicant and the WHO Secretariat to enable WHO to ask questions relating to the applicant’s experience and expertise and/or to assess whether the applicant meets the criteria for membership in the relevant AG.
The selection of members of the AGs will be made by WHO in its sole discretion, taking into account the following (non-exclusive) criteria: relevant technical expertise; experience in international and country policy work; communication skills; and ability to work constructively with people from different cultural backgrounds and orientations .The selection of AG members will also take account of the need for diverse perspectives from different regions, especially from low and middle-income countries, and for gender balance.
If selected by WHO, proposed members will be sent an invitation letter and a Memorandum of Agreement. Appointment as a member of a AG will be subject to the proposed member returning to WHO the countersigned copy of these two documents.
WHO reserves the right to accept or reject any expression of interest, to annul the open call process and reject all expressions of interest at any time without incurring any liability to the affected applicant or applicants and without any obligation to inform the affected applicant or applicants of the grounds for WHO’s action. WHO may also decide, at any time, not to proceed with the establishment of the AG, disband an existing TAG or modify the work of the AG.
WHO shall not in any way be obliged to reveal, or discuss with any applicant, how an expression of interest was assessed, or to provide any other information relating to the evaluation/selection process or to state the reasons for not choosing a member.
WHO may publish the names and a short biography of the selected individuals on the WHO internet.
AG members will not be remunerated for their services in relation to the AG or otherwise. Travel and accommodation expenses of AG members to participate in AG meetings will be covered by WHO in accordance with its applicable policies, rules and procedures.
The appointment will be limited in time as indicated in the letter of appointment.
If you have any questions about this “Call for experts”, please write to email@example.com well before the applicable deadline.
Deadline: 16 July 2023