September 28, 2017

Alabama Genomic Health Initiative lauded for collaboration by advocacy group

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aghi peopleTrained counselors help those interested in participating in the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative.The University of Alabama at Birmingham and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology were recognized for their groundbreaking collaboration in genomics at the annual Health Connect South symposium in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Alabama Genomic Health Initiative was one of several collaborations aimed at improving health to be recognized at the event.

AGHI is aimed at preventing and treating disease, including certain types of cancer, heart problems and genetic disorders. In collaboration with HudsonAlpha in Huntsville, UAB Medicine is providing genomic testing, interpretation and counseling free of charge to residents in each of Alabama’s 67 counties. For some, the results will indicate an increased risk of a disease for which preventive or treatment strategies exist. Those participants will receive genetic counseling and be linked to appropriate medical care.

The initiative also features a public education campaign about genomic medicine and will create a DNA biobank for research, through which data from test results will be used to advance scientific understanding of the role that genes play in health and disease.

“This project will result in immediate health benefits to some participants, and in the long term will help to address problems of chronic disease and rising health care costs in the state,” said Bruce R. Korf, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Genetics and co-director of the AGHI. “It will also position Alabama as a leader at the forefront of 21st century medicine.”

“This initiative advances the tremendous work already being done in genomics at HudsonAlpha and at UAB,” said Rick Myers, Ph.D., president and science director of HudsonAlpha. “We are grateful for the recognition of this important initiative by Health Connect South.”

The program is believed to be the first state initiative of this type.