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Veenstra weighs in on genetic testing in Science Magazine

DNA sample for gene sequencing at Debbie Nickerson Lab, University of Washington.
DNA sample for gene sequencing at Debbie Nickerson Lab, University of Washington. Photo: Claire McLean, UW Medicine

The question about the benefits and pitfalls of genetic testing is discussed in, “Is health care ready for routing DNA screening? A massive new trial will find out” in Science Magazine. Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research and Policy faculty member and associate director, David Veenstra was interviewed for the story.

“In about 5 years I think we are going to have a very serious discussion about whether this is something that should be implemented in almost a public health sense, ” said Veenstra.

The main question being asked right now is whether or not widespread genomic screening will be a cost effective method of preventative medicine for patients. Many predict that this is the future of health care because it will better inform health care providers about the individual patient, in other words, personalized medicine at a genomic level. The cost of widespread genomic testing in the United States would fall mainly to insurance companies—and they will want to be sure that testing does not open the door to unsustainable health care costs, says Veenstra.

Known broadly as the MyCode Community Health Initiative and run by the Danville-based Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, the effort has so far sequenced the protein-coding DNA, or exomes, of more than 92,400 people. Geisinger asks each participant whether they are willing to be contacted if the sequencing reveals a DNA variant that puts them at risk for disease—and roughly 85% have agreed to be part of the experimental program called GenomeFIRST Return of Results. Veenstra studies the implications of using genomic information in health care and is working with Geisinger researchers to assess GenomeFIRST’s cost effectiveness.

Read the full article here

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