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State of California Funds $2M Whole-Genome Sequencing Pilot for Sick Newborns at Rady Children's

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Rady Children's Hospital San Diego said today that it is launching a pilot project, funded with $2 million from the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal), to offer rapid whole-genome sequencing for critically ill newborns.

The program, dubbed "Project Baby Bear," will provide rapid WGS as a first-line diagnostic test for newborns in the intensive care unit at four participating hospitals in California.

Testing will be performed at Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine, which has been offering WGS for babies and children in intensive care since 2016. However, up until now, such testing was only conducted as part of clinical trials and paid for by research grants or philanthropic donations.

"We are enormously grateful to the leadership of our elected officials in California for their willingness to support this important demonstration project," said Stephen Kingsmore, president and CEO of Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine, in a statement. "It's our belief that rapid whole-genome sequencing should become a first-line diagnostic test and standard of care in neonatal intensive care units everywhere."

"We are honored to be selected as the first California children's hospital to use the Medi-Cal platform to deliver access to this life-changing test to children who need it, regardless of their family's ability to pay," said Donald Kearns, president and CEO of Rady Children's, in the same statement.