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The State of It

It's been a little more than 15 years since the kickoff of public health genomics, writes Muin Khoury, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office of Public Health Genomics, at the Genomics and Health Impact Blog. With technological improvements in whole-genome sequencing, it is increasingly being applied to detect and control infectious disease outbreaks as well as to determine which people are at increased risk of developing rare and common diseases.

"Although much of the field will be a work in progress for quite some time, an increasing number of genomic applications can actually save lives now by improving health and preventing disease in the US and worldwide," Khoury writes.

He adds that the CDC recently developed a classification scheme to assess the evidence for incorporating human genomic tests and applications into clinical or population settings. "The schema takes a population perspective for an emerging role for public health programs to supplement clinical practice," he writes. Newborn screening, he notes, is the largest public health genetics program, but other applications are also on, and being added to, the list.

"The next 5 years will require a closer collaboration among public health, healthcare organizations and the private sector to implement what we know to benefit populations," Khoury adds. "The public health community can serve as the honest broker for rapidly emerging applications and technologies, and help ensure that the tools of public health science are used appropriately to evaluate the health impact of genomics at the individual and population levels."

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.