Presidential Address 

The Society of Human Genetics

Vorasuk Shotelersuk, MD

     First, I would like to thank all my faculty and colleagues for trusting me to be the first president of the Thai Society of Human Genetics. I intend to be determined and dedicated to laying the foundation of the Society to enable members to work fully and efficiently according to the mission of the Society, which in turn will benefit the Thai society. 

    The Genetics Society of Thailand, established in 1985, has a mission to study genetics of all organisms covering humans, animals, plants, microorganisms, and others. Recently, the body of knowledge and technology in genetics and computers is rapidly advancing. The first human reference genome was completed in 2003. Sequencing technology has evolved into massive parallel sequencing or next generation sequencing (NGS).  Current technology can sequence all three billion bases of a human being within days with a cost in the realm of tens of thousands of baht. This technology evolution has moved genetics from pure science to medicine, and today many countries of the world have applied this knowledge of genetics into the public health system.

     To discover new knowledge in human genetics and to apply the knowledge and technology for health, medicine, and public health in Thailand rapidly and efficiently, a group of experts assembled and established "the Thai Society of Human Genetics" which was officially registered on December 27, 2019. The Thai Society of Human Genetics is an organization that brings together experts and interested individuals to create and use human genetics knowledge and technology to the benefit of humans.

     Genetics are related to all stages of the human life cycle; spanning from the pre-marriage planning, prenatal and perinatal periods, infancy to old age. It is also involved in many aspects of life, both in creating good health based on evidence, and in illnesses. Genetic factors are related to diseases of all organs and systems. Genetics also involves ethical, legal and social issues such as pre-symptomatic disease testing, employment of those with genetic predisposition, development of abortion policy and non-discriminate use of human genetics information in health insurance. Therefore, those involved in human genetics include the medical personnel, all medical specialists, nurses, pharmacists, medical technologists, scientists, biologists, computer engineers, emerging science specialists such as genetic counsellors, bioinformaticians, variant scientists, as well as patients and families. Scholars in ethics, religion, law, society, economics and business from educational institutions and the civil servants from various departments in the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, and the whole of the Thai society, both at home and abroad will be involved.

    The Thai Society of Human Genetics has a core mission of academic, research, and applications of genetics in all areas related to human genetics for health, medicine, and public health. For genetics to benefit the wellbeing of people in society, it is imperative that experts clearly communicate the sciences to the people who are the ones using genetics technology services. When people have accurate information, positive attitudes, and proper recommendations, they can make the appropriate decisions which will ultimately benefit the country. Providers that use genetic technology, both in the public and private sectors, will provide services scientifically and ethically. 

     From the medical perspective, the body of knowledge and technology in human genetics has driven a paradigm shift in the use of clinical evidence. The era of evidence-based medicine, building best clinical evidence from randomized placebo-controlled trials, provided us with information about the population average. Genomics has steered the evidence-based medicine era into the era of individualized medicine (personalized medicine), genomics medicine and precision medicine. Clinical practice of all medical specialties will be changed by genomics. Therefore, the first success indicator of our Society is number of members. We are open for specialists in and other medical fields such as family physicians, preventive medicine, neurology, hematology, endocrinology, heart disease, pulmonary disease, gastroenterological disease, kidney and urinary tract disease, dermatology, immunology and ophthalmic disease, as well as healthcare professionals in other fields such as dentists, nurses, pharmacists, medical technicians, and anyone who see the values and are interested in participating in the activities of the Thai Society of Human Genetics. The second indicator is the number of activities that members of our Society have been invited to participate in by community, academic and professional associations. This will result in the widespread and better understanding of the human genetics.

    In the application of genetics for public health, the Society's work will be closely aligned with the National Cooperative Plan for Genomics Thailand or “Genomics Thailand”. One of the flagship projects is the whole genome sequencing of 50,000 Thais, which will include a group of single gene diseases, rare diseases, undiagnosed diseases, cancer, non-communicable diseases, infectious disease, and pharmacogenomics. In addition to establishing the national genome database, it will also make definitive diagnoses that will be of great benefit to the patients, their families, and the whole of society.

    The Human Genetics Society also has a mission to promote the study of the impact of genetics knowledge and technology on ethics, law and social issues (Ethical, Legal and Social Issues; ELSI), seeing as genetics will play an important role in solving serious health and social problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, for which molecular genetics will have an ever increasing relevance for making diagnoses and discoveries of new knowledge for predicting disease severity.

     Although the Thai Society of Human Genetics has only been recently established, it has a clear mission in aiming to provide great benefit to Thai society. Together with our knowledgeable members who are known for their capability, determination, dedication, selflessness and devotion to the common good, I am certain that the Thai Society of Human Genetics will be able to lay their foundations and grow quickly. It is a stage that will bring together and join spirit and forces, in order to be the academic pillar for the benefit of the society as a whole incessantly.