We are excited to announce the Decolonize DNA Day Twitter Conference. As part of larger DNA Day celebrations, the conference will critically discuss the impacts of genomics and DNA on society as a whole. Especially for communities who are generally underrepresented in genomics, many have complex relationships with how genomics studies are conducted. Thus, our goal is to provide a platform for academics to voice these concerns to a broader audience. Read further for an overview.

Twitter Conference is meant to encourage collaboration, public engagement, and to spark discussions in an accessible way. Also, this is a great moment to participate in science discourse on the day leading up to National DNA Day. Hence, we hope that many will enjoy this new mode of #SciComm, or science communication.

What Does “Decolonize DNA” Mean?

Many people celebrate DNA Day every April 25 to recognize major milestones in the study of DNA. In particular, DNA Day commemorates the publication of the double helix structure and the completion of the Human Genome Project.

Academics have always sought to understand the underlying biological mechanisms that underpin the heritable transmission of traits. While these mysteries continue to be unlocked with modern genomic technologies, the rate at which discoveries are made must be examined and balanced in context with its wider societal and cultural implications.

The implications of DNA and genomics affect communities differently. Some communities may benefit more from advances in genomic medicine, for instance. On the other hand, some have contentious relationships with the technology because of research misconduct in their communities. A common argument is that “science is objective”. But these questions (how genomics research is performed, who is included, and what conclusions are made) have profound impacts on society. These impacts re-affirm underlying disparities and structural barriers to health. Furthermore, these effects may exacerbate underlying issues rooted in settler colonial ideas related to “racial biology” and power imbalances.

While there are many definitions on how to “decolonize” a construct, we use the term to re-frame narratives of DNA. As more academics from underrepresented communities enter the dialogue of DNA, we hope that the study of genomics will become more equitable. For us, by us.

What is a “Twitter Conference”?

Twitter conference is a social media event in which academics present their “talks” via tweets from their own handles. The @DecolonizeDNA account will then retweet. Therefore, we have invited academics from multiple disciplines who are working in the space of genomics and DNA. We also have panelists who will also contribute to the conversation, but it is open to the public and all are welcome to engage in this dynamic, real-time conversation.

Partners and Sponsors

The Native BioData Consortium (NBDC) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization of leading researchers and Indigenous members of tribal communities that are focused on increasing the understanding of Native American genomic issues. 

The University of Manchester and the Double Helix History project is coordinating a series of public engagement events in the United Kingdom on the days leading up to DNA Day.