ASHG Code of Ethics (2006)


American Society for Human Genetics


ASHG Code of Ethics

Date Approved: 


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ASHG Code of Ethics

The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) is a membership organization that includes multidisciplinary professionals with a common interest in human genetic research and clinical practice. Society members contribute to the advancement of science for the benefit of health. 

The Code of Ethics provides an ethical framework for members as they work to further the aims of ASHG. Members act in a manner consistent with the good reputation of the Society. Members do not represent the Society as such. This Code of Ethics does not replace the ethical or legal obligations of individual members as set by their own professional bodies, employers, or applicable legislation.


Members advance both fundamental and applied knowledge in human genetics for the benefit of the public.

  • Improvement of Health Care

    Promote public health, through the advancement of human genetic research
    and the provision of high quality genetic services. 

  • Training

    Educate employees, students, and professionals to follow responsible research
    practice and genetic services, consistent with the highest ethical standards. 
    Treat trainees with respect and provide them with opportunities for professional
    growth and development. 

  • Collaboration

    Share knowledge in research, practice, and ethics through publication, 
    professional meetings and conferences. Encourage inter-professional and
    international collaboration for the benefit of health care. Meet applicable ethical
    and legal standards while conducting collaborations.


Members comply with the highest ethical standards such as honesty and courtesy. They conduct themselves with appropriate behavior and attitudes.

  • Maintain professional competence

    Advance their knowledge and understanding of new scientific developments 
    and emerging areas of practice through ongoing education and training. 

  • Respect professional Codes of Ethics

    Abide by the prevailing ethical and legal norms of their profession.

  • Objectivity

    Approach professional activities with an unbiased attitude, gathering evidence 
    fairly and precisely. 

  • Accountability

    Act responsibly toward colleagues, government, corporate sponsors, the wider 
    health care community and the public at large. Build public trust through

  • Collegiality

    Treat colleagues and researchers with respect and courtesy, based on
    principles of equality and mutual respect for those with differing worldviews or
    from different cultures. Share ideas honestly, giving proper credit for others’
    contributions to their work.


Members protect the privacy of the individual, especially in light of concerns over possible discrimination and confidentiality of medical information.

  • Confidentiality

    Respect the confidential nature of all information entrusted to them. Disclosing
    personal health information with proper and specific authority through the
    consent of the individual or where there is a legal, ethical or professional right
    or duty to disclose. 

  • Storage and security

    Maintain confidentiality in creating, storing, accessing, transferring, and 
    disposing of personal health information.


Members act fairly and provide complete, accurate and timely information to their colleagues, to the public, and to the media.

  • Professionalism

    Claim expertise in fields where they have the necessary depth of knowledge,
    especially when interacting with patients, or contributing to public discussion or
    policy debate. Do not make statements that are false, deceptive, or fraudulent
    concerning research, practice, or other work activities, or those of persons or
    groups with whom they are affiliated. 

  • Conflicts of interest

    Disclose any potential conflicts of interest. Safeguard the quality and credibility
    of their professional judgment. 

  • Diffusion of results

    Report findings accurately, completely, without distortion and in a timely 
    manner. Present personal opinions as such and not as those of the Society. 

  • Public education

    Foster public understanding of the nature and objectives of human genetics
    consistent with open and responsible use of human genetic findings in science 
    and health care.

Approved March 2006 
ASHG Board of Directors


Year Published: