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Healthy Nevada Project Incorporates Telegenetics Counseling

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Telegenetics firm Genome Medical will provide genetic counseling and education services within Renown Health's Healthy Nevada Project as part of a deal announced today.

Under the partnership, Genome Medical will provide study participants with clinically actionable findings counseling and other genetic services. "This ensures that participants with medically actionable findings are given the best possible means of understanding their results and communicating those results back to their primary care provider, who can guide any necessary changes to their clinical care," the partners said in a statement.

Within the Healthy Nevada Project, researchers are collecting clinical, environmental, socioeconomic, and genetic data in a repository managed by Northern Nevada's Renown Institute for Health Innovation and studying the multifactorial causes of disease. San Francisco Bay Area-based Helix is sequencing the exomes of participants and collecting their genetic data. Participants started receiving genetic test results for familial hypercholesterolemia last fall, followed by  results for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, and Lynch syndrome.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these three conditions are poorly managed, and screening for mutations in genes associated with these diseases could improve the population's health through early detection and prevention. A number of studies now show that testing individuals based on current guidelines does not identify a significant portion of the at-risk population for these conditions.

But as more people learn their risks for diseases, there will also be a need to scale up support services to help them understand their test results and get the necessary screening services. Genome Medical has a virtual telehealth platform through which study participants will be connected directly to genetic specialists.

"We believe returning results to participants is a critical part of this population health study," Joseph Grzymski, chief scientific officer at Renown Health, said in a statement. "However, we know that just returning results isn't enough. We are also here to help people understand their risks and take necessary next steps at the clinical level to help them live healthier lives."

Genome Medical CEO Lisa Alderson said in a statement that patients and their physicians will be able to access the firm's genetic specialists to address concerns and incorporate genetic information into care. "We hope this will serve as a model for large scale research programs to return genetic information to participants," Alderson said.

Renown Institute said in a statement that it has already enrolled, consented, and collected DNA from approximately 35,000 participants. The goal is that by year end, 1 in 40 Nevadans will be enrolled in the study.