- Geisinger Health System is taking precision medicine to the next level with a dedicated research center for genomic research supported by telemedicine technologies. The Precision Health Center will use remote conferencing tools to provide genetic counselling and clinical decision support for patients and specialists around the nation and beyond, officials said at a ribbon cutting ceremony this week.
"This new facility certainly represents the introduction of genomic medicine in this region of Pennsylvania, and much of what we will be doing here will be completely groundbreaking in terms of research and direct patient care," said Glenn D. Steele Jr., MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System.
"The genomic data that will become available to our team at Forty Fort will allow us to give patients access to genomically informed health care in a manner and at a scale that has not been seen before," added Michael Murray, MD, director of clinical genomics, Geisinger Genomic Medicine Institute. "In the facility's initial phase, we will be consulting with people engaged in Geisinger's MyCode Community Health Initiative; however we expect to expand the use of this cutting-edge telegenomics technology at the new Precision Health Center rapidly in order to extend this type of care to providers and their patients anywhere."
The center complements President Obama’s $215 million precision medicine initiative launched at the beginning of 2015, which hopes to foster big data analytics and genomics in an effort to find more effective treatments and cures for hereditary diseases and other rare conditions. The Geisinger center is not funded by the federal initiative, and builds off ongoing research on genetic variants conducted in partnership with Regeneron Genetics Center, an offshoot of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
The collaboration has already sequenced the exomes of more than 30,000 patients with hopes to add at least a quarter of a million more subjects as the project continues. This work will provide the foundation for patient genetic counselling while generating insights for researchers exploring the potential of precision medicine for a vast array of conditions.
"Patients around the block or around the globe will be able to receive care from the center, with professionals delivering care on-site as well as through a state-of-the-art telehealth program," Dr. Murray said. "The center will encourage scientific investigation and education through collaborations with colleges and universities, including clinical, health economics and pharmacy research programs."
The 14,000-square-foot Precision Health Center complex will also house the second branch of Gesinger’s Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI) as it pursues its quest to provide tailored care to children with developmental disorders seeking resources within the region.
"We share a common goal with our families and with our community – to improve outcomes for children with special developmental needs," said Christa Martin, PhD, FACMG, director, Geisinger ADMI and senior investigator. "ADMI's focused commitment to community is part of what makes us unique. This new facility should particularly benefit a large number of our patients and their families who are from northeastern Pennsylvania."