Welcome Message from Muin J. Khoury, MD, PhD

Director, Office of Public Health Genomics

Hello everyone. Welcome to public health genomics. I’m Muin Khoury. Director of the Office of Public Health Genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, there is quite a bit of excitement about a new era of healthcare and disease prevention. Genomics is at the center of this excitement. Briefly, genomics refers to the study of all genes in a person and how they interact with other genes and factors that can affect health, such as infections, chemicals, social factors and behaviors.

Just a few years after the entire human genome was sequenced, we know so much more about how genes can affect health and their associations with many diseases. Not only diseases we traditionally think of as genetic diseases, like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, but also common chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, and childhood conditions like asthma and autism, as well as infectious diseases and diseases caused by harmful environmental exposures. Yet, we face many challenges today in translating this new information into appropriate health interventions for preventing disease and improving the public’s health.

In 1997, CDC created the Office of Public Health Genomics to provide public health leadership for translating genomic discoveries into practice and prevention. CDC led the development of the field of public health genomics in the United States and around the world. Public health genomics is a multi-disciplinary field that focuses on the effective and responsible translation of genetic information and technology for the benefit of population health.

The mission of the office is to help ensure that scientific advances in genomics are made available for use in public health research, programs, and policy in the United States. During the last 10 years CDC has developed major initiatives for conducting population research, assessing the role of family history in determining health risks and supporting systematic processes for evaluating genetic tests, as well as integrating genetic information into disease prevention programs.

This Web site provides continuously updated information about these initiatives, as well as links to other genomic activities at CDC. The Web site also serves as a credible source for information on the appropriate role and importance of genomics in disease prevention and health promotion.

In this genomics age, we must begin to link genomic discoveries to appropriate population level assessments, policies and disease prevention programs. Eventually genomics will help to change the face of public health by focusing interventions on individuals and groups who will benefit the most from behavioral modifications, drug therapies, and other forms of interventions.

I predict that genomics will become a fundamental tool of public health in the 21st century.

Thank you very much.


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