Genomics in society: VR visions for the future

This talk made in October , 2020 has been given during the International Congress of Extended Reality in Sciences ( organized by the Swiss Society of Virtual and Augmented Reality (SSVAR –
Dr. Susan Persky is an associate investigator and head of the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Unit where she directs the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area (IVETA) within in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB), National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), NIH.

She earned a B.A. in psychology for Northwestern University. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied at the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior.

After conducting postdoctoral research at Columbia University, she came to the SBRB in 2005. Here, she built the IVETA, an immersive VR -based experimental research lab within the SBRB, founded in 2006.

Dr. Persky splits her effort between providing leadership for the IVETA and conducting her programmatic research. Her work investigates the function of new genomic knowledge about common health conditions like obesity and diabetes in interactions between health care providers and patients and in public and online discourse.

Dr. Persky has published extensively in the areas of health communication, genomics, and virtual reality methods, and has presented her work in venues such as the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Virtual and Augmented Reality.

Applying virtual reality (VR) as an experimental research methodology enables consideration of important social and behavioral research questions in step with, and often in advance of, emerging genetic and genomic knowledge.

Although genetics and genomics are well understood in rare disease contexts, their application for precision medicine in a public health context (e.g., for obesity and diabetes prevention) is still an aspiration. VR-based research is able to test the influence of yet anticipated genomics applications in ways that would be logistically impractical or impossible in real-world health settings. We have applied VR in healthcare communication contexts to understand how variation in patient characteristics, provider characteristics, and clinical context influences outcomes of genomics-focused medical encounters. Here, we identify situations where we may risk inciting social stigma or discrimination through genomics integration. Through measurement of parent feeding behavior in a VR-based buffet simulation we have furthermore honed genomics communication approaches for conveying information about children’s adulthood disease risk.

This work aims to provide the needed evidence base to inform future genomic technologies, optimizing them to improve public health.

Speaker’s page…

The intro video has been made by Dragan Stiglic:

The director:
Mohamed Jean-Philippe Sangaré
Founder and CEO of SSVAR

Scroll to top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.