Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Developing Priorities In The Field Of Genomics And Public Health

Text: 2012-2017 Priorities for Public Health Genomics Stakeholder Consultation|Priorities Conference Report|September 2011  In June 2011, the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics launched a community wide consultation process to develop priorities for the field of public health genomics in the next 5 years. This process was initiated as part of strategic visioning for integrating the emerging tools of genomics into practice and assuring the success of these new tools in improving population health. The process was conducted at a time of a widening gap between the rapid scientific advances in genomics and their impact on improving population health.   The University of Michigan Center for Public Health and Community Genomics and Genetic Alliance spearheaded an effort to seek, collate and synthesize advice and recommendations from numerous stakeholders and constituents. The effort culminated in a workshop conducted on September 14, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. The results of the consultation, discussions and deliberations are summarized in a report published by the University of Michigan. Highlights of the recommendations are summarized here but readers should consult the full report.  Some of the recommendations include:

To improve public health genomics education:

  • Integrate genomics into health professional programs of study (e.g., schools of public health, medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy, etc.).
  • Train the existing health professional workforce
  • Build partnerships and collaborations in academia, public health practice and communities to promote genetic and genomic literacy.

To improve utility and efficiency of research:

  • Develop and implement research that leads to a strong evidence base for public health action
  • Direct research toward translation, shifting focus to health outcomes
  • Engage community in research agendas.

To assure that genetics services and technologies are safe, effective, and appropriately integrated into the healthcare setting:

  • Evaluate genetic tests for clinical validity and utility
  • Create a credible, publicly available database of genomics tools and findings on their validity and utility
  • Evaluate family history to demonstrate value of genetic tests, technologies, services, and tools.

To support safe, responsible and practical uses of public health genomics, develop policies to:

  • Ensure a competent public health workforce and a health-literate nation
  • Further public health genomics research agendas
  • Ensure proper regulation of genomic technologies
  • Ensure appropriate use of genomic technologies.

To ensure health applications would effectively improve public health outcomes over the next five years:

  • Utilize family health history to identify risk and modify behavior
  • Expand focus of genomics and related technologies to common chronic disease.

We are most grateful to the numerous individuals, organizations and communities that worked hard on this consultation effort. The report adds passion and substantive contributions to recently developed reports, notably by the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society on training and education of the workforce, the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials on the essential public health functions and services in genomics, and our recent paper: “beyond base pairs to bedside”.

As the field of genomics and related technologies continues to mature in the next decade, we see an important contribution of public health practice in all these domains. Among important actions for public health will be to:

  • Serve as the honest broker for emerging genomic applications to consumers, providers, and policymakers to inform what is ready and what is not
  • Implement evidence-based genomic applications and discourage use of unvalidated applications through policy, educational and clinical interventions
  • Evaluate impact of public health interventions to assess benefits and harms for subsets of the population based on genetic and genomic information.

Collectively, these actions will have a small but increasing impact for improving population health. Two cases in point are implementation of recent evidence-based recommendations around BRCA testing for breast and ovarian cancer and Lynch syndrome testing in colorectal cancer. They will also have an important impact in saving unnecessary healthcare costs and preventing harms while illuminating what is ready for implementation.  Finally, these actions will evaluate existing public health efforts as to their benefits and harms and inform the next generation of public health interventions.

We will continue to work with our many partners in the US and globally to chart the course of public health genomics to ensure the success of genomics technologies in improving the health of all people.

*This blog post was originally published at Genomics and Health Impact Blog*


You may also like these posts

Read comments »


Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

Caring For Winter Olympians In Sochi: An Interview With Team USA’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gloria Beim

I am a huge fan of the winter Olympics partly because I grew up in Canada where most kids can ski and skate before they can run and partly because I used to participate in Downhill ski racing. Now that I m a rehab physician with a reconstructed knee I…

Read more »

How Do Hospital Executives Feel About Locum Tenens Agencies And Traveling Physicians?

I recently wrote about my experiences as a traveling physician and how to navigate locum tenens work. Today I want to talk about the client in this case hospital side of the equation. I ve had the chance to speak with several executives some were physicians themselves about the overall…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

Read more »

See all book reviews »