Building on mechanistic information, much of molecular epidemiologic research has focused on validating biomarkers, that is, assessing their ability to accurately indicate exposure, effect, disease, or susceptibility. To be of use in surveillance, medical screening, or interventions, biomarkers must already be validated so that they can be used as outcomes or indicators that can serve a particular function. In surveillance, biomarkers can be used as indicators of hazard, exposure, disease, and population risk. However, to obtain rates for these measures, the population at risk will need to be assessed. In medical screening, biomarkers can serve as early indicators of disease in asymptomatic people. This allows for the identification of those who should receive diagnostic confirmation and early treatment. In intervention (which includes risk assessment and communication, risk management, and various prevention efforts), biomarkers can be used to assess the effectiveness of a prevention or control strategy as well as help determine whether the appropriate individuals are assigned to the correct intervention category. Biomarkers can be used to provide group and individual risk assessments that can be the basis for marshalling resources. Critical for using biomarkers in surveillance, medical screening, and intervention is the justification that the biomarkers can provide information not otherwise accessible by a less expensive and easier-to-obtain source of information, such as medical records, surveys, or vital statistics. The ability to use validated biomarkers in surveillance, medical screening, and intervention will depend on the extent to which a strategy for evidence-based procedures for biomarker knowledge transfer can be developed and implemented. This will require the interaction of researchers and decision-makers to collaborate on public health and medical issues.
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