Using DNA for More than Genealogy

As genealogists and family historians, many of us are interested in the use of DNA to help us in our research quests and have had our DNA tested by one or more of the major testing companies.  Some of us have also been interested in what our DNA can inform us about our health. You know who else is interested? The National Institutes of Health!

Yesterday, the National Institutes of Health announced funding awards for the infrastructure that will support the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program. This program has a goal to enroll at least 1,000,0000 people (yes, 1 MILLION people!) who will agree to give DNA samples, and share all kinds of information about lifestyle and health practices/behaviors with them.  The NIH will then use all the information we share to study and understand how our INDIVIDUAL differences contribute to our health. Collectively, all the data we share will help healthcare providers improve the ability to prevent and treat disease based on our individual differences – and that is what precision medicine is all about.

This is a transformative and unprecedented moment in our country’s approach to healthcare. But one that will only happen if we enroll and agree to share, share, and share some more! It will be secure, your data will be shared back with you, you will also be able to see aggregate data from everyone in the cohort.

For years genetic genealogy has been a growing interest. I would love to see our genealogy community embrace the use of genetics to also better inform healthcare. Now – here is my disclaimer – I am employed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and we were one of the award recipients. VUMC will establish the Data and Research Support Center for the cohort program. In my professional role, our work unit will contribute to the work done for VUMC on this initiative – so yes, I am biased :-).  If you are interested though, I will send out more information once the launch happens later this year. You can sign-up here to be notified when I do.


 

Note: All opinions my own and not those of my employer.

 

 

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