Remarkable progress has been made in genome research and cytogenetic studies, such as the identification of responsible gene mutations, the discovery of onset mechanisms and the development of remedies. The application of these advancements to medicine provides tremendous hope in pursuing improvement of human health, and also in preventing and treating diseases. Research breakthroughs have contributed clinically to remarkable and revolutionary advances such as genetic testing for definitive diagnosis, judging the severity of diseases based on gene mutations and mapping out the most appropriate courses of therapy. On the other hand, genetic information has a characteristic that can be stated as “not to change one’s future life and to be partially shared by blood relatives”. Nowadays, many technical procedures are available. These include techniques such predicting the incidence of certain diseases with very high accuracy (pre-symptomatic diagnosis), clarifying the inheritance of one’s asymptomatic genetic factor(s) by offspring (carrier detection), and diagnosing a fetus carrying a certain genetic disease (prenatal diagnosis).
The spread of genetic counseling is at present a remarkably absorbing field encompassing science, ethics, legal and human rights, etc. The demand is motivated by realization of the need to deal with medical treatments for many conditions; the necessity to provide correct and appropriate information about genetic aspects of clinical disorders from the standpoint of medical specialists, problems regarding the “right to know” vs the “right not to know”, and also ethical problems associated with anxiety and conflict regarding effects on the life of the fetus. Situations in which patients or their families must confront the selective problems of “bioethics” or “heredity” are anticipated to increase, and also must be dealt with employing genetic counseling.
In this context, Japanese Society for Genetic Counseling aims to contribute to the advancements, progress and promotion of clinical genetics in this country, as well as to improving medicine and welfare by striving to perform clinical genetic research activities and provide impartial genetic counseling, in response to growing public demand. To achieve these purposes, the following activities are being promoted.
1) Investigation, research, and education on clinical genetics and genetic counselingbr
2) Establishment of a system for genetic counseling, and promotion of correct information provision on genetics to members of the medical facility staff and to the public.
3) Holding scientific meetings.
4) Publication of the Japanese Journal of Genetic Counseling（abbreviation: Jpn J Genet Counsel JJGC）, an official journal
5) Other activities aimed at accomplishing the aforementioned purposes
To carry out these activities, Japanese Society for Genetic Counseling organized the following committees followed by active implementation.
The Education Committee:
Planning and conducting various seminars
The Editorial and Publications Committee:
Publication and improvement of the Japanese Journal of Genetic Counseling.
The Social, Ethical and Legal Issues Committee:
Investigation of ethical problems involved in genetic counseling.
Clinical genetics specialist committee system:
To administrate the qualification system for Clinical Genetics Specialists.
Japanese Board of Genetic Counseling:
To certify and recertify qualified genetic counselors (non-physicians), and accredit master programs of genetic counseling.
The Information and Communications Committee (ICC):
Delivery of on-line News Letters and improvement and updating of the official homepage.
The genetic nursing committee:
Improvement of genetic medicine in nursing fields.
The international exchange committee:
Activities serving as a window into the TAGC (Transnational Alliance for Genetic Counseling) which is an organization for international communication among genetic counselor training institutions.
The committee on genetic testing:
Investigation of problems encountered in genetic testing.
The committee on genetics education:
Investigation of genetics education at every level.
Health insurance committee:
To promote the inclusion of genetic testing and genetic counseling into the public medical insurance system.
Prenatal genetic counseling review committee:
Investigation of improvements and problem solving for genetic counseling in prenatal diagnosis.
The professions of the registered members encompass a wide variety of fields including medical doctors, dentists, certified genetic counselors, public health nurses, maternity nurses, nurses, researchers, clinical laboratory technologists, rehabilitation trainers, psychologists, legal team members, ethics specialists, educational workers, and administrators. The number of members was 1064 as of November 2013, and continues to grow annually.
There are 1326 Clinical Geneticists and 151 Certified Genetic Counselors (Non-physician). qualified by the Japan Society of Human Genetics and our Society. Our society serves as a valuable site for education and training, and also for information exchange and interaction, both for those who have achieved the qualification and also for those who are going forward with their qualification process.