WONCA Special Interest Group: Genetics


A new WONCA Special Interest Group on Genetics was approved by the WONCA Executive in October 2015. Membership is open to interested family doctors.

Why an SIG on Genetics?
It is estimated that approximately 7% of Europeans are affected by a rare disease: totalling 30 million individuals. Of all rare diseases, 80% have a genetic component [1], requiring significant proportion of the healthcare budget. There is evidence that patients at risk of genetic disease may not be recognised, while those who seek advice about their risks of rare genetic diseases may not be referred or managed appropriately by health professionals (Baars, Henneman & Ten Kate, 2005). This may relate to lack of awareness of the family that a condition may have a genetic component, or may be due to lack of knowledge in primary care professionals that this may be so. Undetected genetic risk can have serious consequences for the entire family, for example through preventing access to screening or preventive drugs or surgery (e.g. for cancer), resulting in increased morbidity, mortality, family burden and healthcare costs. Thus, raising awareness of the risks and potential management of such cases is important for the patient and the wider family and falls well within the remit of primary care.
1. www.raredisease.org.uk

For more information email convenor.

Convenor / Chair

Convenor: Dr Imran Rafi (UK)

Dr Imran Rafi is a General Practitioner Principal and Senior Lecturer in Primary Care Education at St George's, University of London. He is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Clinical Innovation and Research Centre (CIRC), providing leadership to oversee the clinical priority programme, contributing to programmes that support research and promote quality improvements in general practice. Dr Rafi has an interest in genetics and has been a member of the Health Education England Genome Advisory Board and the Human Genome Strategy Group Service working group. He was a founder member of the Primary Care Genetics Society as well as the Society for Academic Primary Care specialist group on primary care genetics. He is currently funded by the Health Education England on the Masters Medical Genomics course at the University of Cambridge. He is a member of the RCGP and of the Royal College of Physicians. He is a member of the RCGP and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

email convenor


Co-Convenor or other office bearers

Executive Members

Membership Open?

Vision and Mission of WONCA SIG on Genetics


The Special Interest Group on Genetics aims to raise the profile of genomic advances and traditional clinical genetics into primary care through both translational health service research and educational activity.

Objectives of the WONCA SIG on Genetics

1. To bring together an international network of key academics and practitioners with an interest in primary care and public health genetics
2. To exchange research ideas that could translate into collaborative position papers and successfully funded research projects.
3. To ensure pathways and service models to implement genomic advances into primary care are appropriately developed and evaluated.
4. To develop effective procedures for horizon scanning, to anticipate future trends in genetics and genomic advances that may impact on clinical practice in primary care and targeted populations, such as, those at risk of haemoglobinopathy.
5. To inform postgraduate educational resources to support practitioners in practice, developing (or making available) evaluation frameworks for these resources.
6. To develop collaborative initiatives with relevant national and international organisation and academic institutes such as the International Genetics Education Network (IGEN)
7. To contribute to the WONCA conferences through submission of abstracts of primary research and multidisciplinary workshops

Publications & Documents


The SIG on Genetics plans to: 

1. Contact existing centres with expertise in primary care genetics research and education - invite membership and support mapping current good clinical practice and research evidence.
2. Organise workshops/ seminars to keep general practitioners up-to-date with the genetics and genomics agenda.
3. Conduct/ facilitate literature review to identify research gaps.
4. Collaborate on setting up a virtual resource centre on primary care genetics.
5. Work with established GP networks and databases (such as the one held by the RCGP Research and Surveillance centre) as well as creating a catalogue of such sources of data and holding metadata about the types of genetic epidemiology studies they might be able to support.
6. Develop a role for SIG on Genetics in advising on development of genetic competences, standards and educational content relating to primary care genetics.
7. Organise meetings of the SIG on Genetics' members at WONCA meetings for advancement of the agenda.
8. Provide news update and event organisation.
9. Report to WONCA council.


Relevant Resources

Integrating genetics into clinical practice (lecture Dr I Rafi)