Public Health Genomics Program Review
3.0 Strategic Accomplishments in FY2007
Advances in genomics have led to mounting expectations for the translation of genomic research into applications for health care and disease prevention. A comprehensive agenda for translation research and surveillance is needed to move human genome discoveries into health practice in a way that maximizes health benefits and minimizes harm to individuals and populations. Currently, hundreds of thousands of genetic variants are being evaluated for association with common, chronic diseases. Research is accelerating the use of new biomarkers derived from gene expression, proteomic, and other “omic” technologies. The number of genetic tests used in clinical practice and research is increasing. In addition, family medical history is receiving renewed attention as a genomic and public health tool for disease detection and prevention.
In the past decade, OPHG has established public health genomics as an interdisciplinary field and developed strong collaborations to begin closing the gap between gene discoveries and population health benefits. To obtain scientific review and assessment of OPHG research and public health initiatives, OPHG held an external peer review panel in August 2007. Public health experts Deborah Klein Walker, EdD, Norman Kahn, MD, Joann Boughman, PhD, Charles Rotimi, PhD, and Alan Guttmacher, MD participated in the review panel. OPHG presented an overview of CDC’s work in public health genomics during the last 10 years, summaries of the current major OPHG initiatives, and OPHG’s vision for the next decade. Directors and management staff from CDC’s Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and other CDC centers participated in this event.
The external peer review panel developed the following program recommendations to strengthen OPHG’s strategy, goals, and initiatives:
- Focus on activities that help move genomics from research to practice.
- Continue and expand the current seed grant program.
- Expand the family history project by adding a translational research dimension.
- Undertake a specific proof-of-principle study to illustrate the value of genomic-based education among providers and patients.
- Investigate ways to incorporate translational research initiatives into existing practice-based research networks.
- Continue the Evaluation of Genomics Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP™) initiative to ensure appropriate evaluation of newly available genetic tests.
- Sustain the HuGENet project.
- Partner with existing provider groups and end-users of genomic data to determine the utility of specific types of genomic data and activities.
- Continue work on the Beyond Gene Discovery initiative using NHANES III data.
- Focus on communicating CDC’s unique role in the field of genomics.
- Develop logic models to help elucidate program effectiveness over time.
- Expand efforts to educate other CDC units about the field of genomics.
- Continue leadership in infusing genomics into public health practice at the state and local levels.
- Reposition OPHG within existing organizational structure of CDC.
- Continue to collaborate on international genomics initiatives.
OPHG is making strides to ensure that these recommendations are incorporated into its current strategic plan, focusing on genomics initiatives that are most critical for public health and clinical practice, and developing new ways to increase investment in public health genomics at CDC.
In 2007, OPHG continued to develop its portfolio for translation research and surveillance activities to advance knowledge about the validity, utility, utilization and population health impact of genomic applications and family history for improving health and preventing disease in well-defined populations or practice settings. The objective is to address key questions along the translation continuum, from 1) the initial development and evaluation of candidate genomic applications, to 2) thorough evaluation of the genomic applications and development of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the use those applications, to 3) the dissemination and implementation of recommended applications in clinical and public health practice, to 4) the evaluation of the extent and fidelity with which recommended applications are implemented in community settings and the effect of implementation on population health.