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Public Health Genomics Program Review

1.0 Office of Public Health Genomics

Public health genomics is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the effective and responsible translation of genome-based knowledge and technologies to improve population health. Public health genomics uses population-based data on genetic variation and gene-environment interactions to develop evidence-based tools for improving health and preventing disease.

Through the Office of Public Health Genomics (OPHG), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides national and international leadership in public heath genomics, while building partnerships with other federal agencies, state health departments, public health organizations, professional groups, and the private sector.

1.1 Vision, Mission, and Goals

The vision, mission, and goals of OPHG have evolved over time in response to ongoing input from internal and external CDC partners; lessons learned from OPHG initiatives; priorities of CDC agency-wide initiatives, including the Goals Process and the Futures Initiative; and the changing identity and location of the office within CDC’s organizational structure. The central tenet upon which OPHG’s vision, mission, and goals is based is the role of public health in translating human genome discoveries into population health benefits.

Although fundamental to many CDC programs, legislation has not been the primary influence in directing specific OPHG activities. Instead, priorities are continually shaped by OPHG leadership, input from internal and external CDC partners, the roles of other government agencies and the private sector, availability of funding, and the state of the science. OPHG’s research and program portfolios are dedicated to closing the gap between genome discoveries and public health impact.

Vision: To use genomic knowledge to improve the lives and health of all people.

Mission: To integrate genomics into public health research, policy, and programs.

Goals: To improve public health interventions for preventing chronic, infectious, environmental, and occupational diseases, through projects focused on population-based genomic research, assessment of the role of family history in determining risk and preventing disease, evaluation of genetic tests, and translation of genome-based information and applications into medical and public health practice.

1.2 Major Initiatives

Evaluation of Genomics Applications for Practice and Prevention
The Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP™) initiative was launched by OPHG to establish and test a systematic, evidence-based process for evaluating genetic tests and other applications of genomic technology that are in transition from research to clinical and public health practice.

Family History Public Health Initiative
OPHG started the Family History Public Health Initiative in 2002 to increase awareness of family history as an important risk factor for common chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and to promote its use in programs aimed at reducing the burden of these diseases in the U.S. population.

Human Genome Epidemiology Network
OPHG established the Human Genome Epidemiology Network (HuGENet™) in 1998 to help translate genetic research findings into opportunities for preventive medicine and public health by advancing the synthesis, interpretation, and dissemination of population-based data on human genetic variation in health and disease.

NHANES III Collaborative Genomics Project
In 2002, OPHG formed a multidisciplinary working group with members from across CDC to develop a proposal to measure the prevalence of selected genetic variants of public health significance in a representative sample of the U.S. population and to examine the associations between the selected genetic variants and disease outcomes available in NHANES III data.

Public Health Genomics Capacity Building
Since 2005, OPHG has funded Centers for Genomics and Public Health within schools of public health at the Universities of Michigan and Washington to provide expertise in translating genomic information into useable public health knowledge, to provide technical assistance to state and community public health agencies, and to integrate genomics into programs and practice.

From July 2003 to June 2008, OPHG supported genomics programs in four state health departments (Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and Utah) to integrate genomics knowledge and tools into chronic disease prevention programs and core public health functions.

Public Health Investigations
OPHG and the National Center for Influenza and Respiratory Diseases developed the Influenza Public Health Genomics Initiative in 2006 to investigate the role of population genetic variation in the epidemiology of influenza morbidity and mortality and the effectiveness of public health interventions.

In 2006, OPHG provided seed funding for 11 innovative CDC projects, focusing on infectious disease, chronic disease, birth defects, pharmacogenomics, and environmental exposures, to integrate genomics into their research and programs. Nine of these initiatives were funded in 2007, for a second year, with anticipated completion date of April 2008.



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  • Additional information for Public Health Genomics is available on our contact page. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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