Geisinger: DNA Sequencing as Preventative Care is Ready for the Clinic

Geisinger Health System is considered a leader in precision health with the success of its MyCode Community Health Initiative. (Credit: Ewing Cole)

Geisinger doctors will soon start offering patients DNA sequencing as part of routine preventative care, the Pennsylvania-based health system CEO Dr. David Feinberg said Sunday. 

“Understanding the genome warning signals of every patient will be an essential part of wellness planning and health management,” Dr. Feinberg told the crowd at the HLTH Conference in Las Vegas. 

Dr. David Feinberg reveals health system’s pioneering precision health efforts will be recommended to every patient (Credit: Geisinger Health System/ PRNewsfoto)

“Geisinger patients will be able to work with their family physician to modify their lifestyle and minimise risk that may be revealed. This forecasting will allow us to provide truly anticipatory health care instead of the responsive sick care that has long been the industry default across the nation.” 

Geisinger is considered a leader in precision health with the success of its MyCode Community Health Initiative, which has enrolled more than 200,000 patient-participants and is already delivering medically relevant results to participants and their primary care doctors. More than 500 Geisinger MyCode participants have received clinical reports telling them that they have a genomic variant that increases their risk of early cancers or heart disease, allowing their doctors to detect and treat these conditions before any clinical symptoms become present.

“Sequencing the known functional parts of the genome for our patients is becoming a clinical reality, not just as a diagnostic test for patients who present with particular symptoms, but for all patients in the communities we serve,” said David Ledbetter, PhD, Geisinger Executive VP and Chief Scientific Officer. “As we sequence the exomes of our patients and learn even more about particular genome variants and their impact on different health conditions, we predict that as many as 10 to 15% of our patients will benefit.”

Geisinger’s pioneering efforts in conducting large-scale DNA sequencing have garnered international recognition. In 2014, Geisinger announced a major collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to sequence the DNA of its MyCode participants. Geisinger’s decision in 2013 to report clinically actionable genomic results to research participants was the first large-scale genomics project.

 

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Five years later, other large national and international projects are now just getting started, including the National Institutes of Health’s “All of Us” campaign, which officially kicked off last week. 

Geisinger’s clinical DNA sequencing efforts will launch with a 1,000-patient pilot program within the next six months. The clinical DNA program will then spread throughout Geisinger’s expansive geographic footprint across Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

“The way we look at it, that’s millions of Geisinger family members who no longer have to rely on the law of averages to forecast their health and make plans about their life and how they live it,” Drs. Feinberg and Ledbetter penned in a recent Harvard Business Review article co-authored by Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., director of Geisinger’s National Precision Health Initiative.

“For these patients, precision health care reduces uncertainty and allows them to take charge. For clinicians, the technologies help us achieve, finally, what should be the true goal of medicine — keeping our patients well,” the trio concluded.