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Guilford Genomic Medicine Initiative Starts


A landmark program seeking to bring the promise of genetic research into the “real world” is underway with the first DNA samples to be collected next year. The Guilford Genomic Medicine Iniative is a partnership involving Moses Cone Health System, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Duke University.

“This project is an excellent example of solid collaboration in search of a greater good,” Dennis Barry, CEO Emeritus, Moses Cone Health System, says. “After a year of intense planning by all three partners, this initiative is ready to move forward in bringing the science of genetic medicine to Guilford County,” said UNCG Chancellor Patricia Sullivan. “The project will help revolutionize the practice of medicine by taking human genomics from the laboratory to medical practice - and our local residents will be among the first to benefit.”

Hiring of 21 new staff members is under way and, when completed, will put staffing at 40 positions. (16 at Duke University and UNCG and eight at Moses Cone Health System.) Starting next year, patients at select Guilford County medical practices who meet certain criteria will be asked to join the effort. If they agree, blood will be drawn and sent to the Duke Center for Human Genetics. Researchers will check the DNA for risk factors for cardiovascular disease, select cancers and genetic differences in the way the patient reacts to medicines (pharmacogenomics). Geneticists from The Institute for Health, Science and Society at UNCG will counsel patients about the results. Pilot medical programs will be started to allow patients and doctors to act on the information.

In the first three years, researchers plan to screen 2,600 people meeting the project’s criteria. Those selected will match the ethnic make-up of Guilford County. "I am very pleased that our delegation came together again this year to support this hugely important project,” Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) says. “ I believe that this additional funding for the Genomic Medicine project will make Guilford County and the Triad major players in biotechnology for the next generation and beyond."

Miller and Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) were lead sponsors in the House for this year’s funding. Rep. David Price (D-NC) and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) were also project supporters.

This is the second year Congress has approved $3.4 million for the project. The money is coming through the Department of Defense. "We were pleased to obtain the funding for this worthwhile project because it will directly assist Guilford County veterans,” Coble says. “The challenges of developing a genomic medicine program are beyond the mission and capacity of the Department of Defense. The Guilford Genomic Medicine Project is highly applicable, however, to the military population and can serve as a model upon which the Defense Department can build its own genomic medicine program.”

| newswise
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