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The 2004 Social Work Month Gala

Dr. Francis S. Collins delivered the keynote address at the Third Annual Social Work Month Gala in Washington, DC, to nearly 200 social workers, community leaders, and other supporters.   This year's Gala, held at the Omni Shoreham on March 11, 2004, honored health care social workers with an emphasis on the role of genetics in social work. Dr. Collins recognized NASW for its leadership in the field of genetics, and applauded NASW's Standards for Integrating Genetics in Social Work Practice.  


Dr. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, led the Human Genome Project, which announced the completion of an international effort to sequence the three billion DNA letters in the human genome in April 2003. Dr. Collins is optimistic about the chances of uncovering hereditary contributions to common diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental illness.


As advances in the genetics field continue to develop, so too will the ethical, legal, and social issues.  Dr. Collins noted social workers-and all health care providers- must become "genetically literate" to effectively respond to these issues.   He said NASW's practice standards on genetics are a key step in integrating genetics in social work practice, and offered a "top ten list" of genetics skills for social workers:  

  • Taking a relevant family history
  • Developing a network for genetic referrals
  • Locating genetic resources when you need them
  • Counseling those undergoing genetic testing
  • Encouraging family communication about genetic issues
  • Understanding the genetics of psychiatric diseases
  • Counseling about differences in drug response
  • Counseling patients with cancer or a fear of cancer
  • Developing cross-cultural skills in genetic counseling
  • Advocating for legislative protections against genetic discrimination

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The NASW Foundation is most grateful to its
2004 Social Work Month Gala Sponsors, Suppporters, & Donors



- Francis S. Collins

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