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Renown Health, Helix Partner to Expand Population Health Study in Nevada

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Renown Institute for Health Innovation will offer 40,000 Nevadans who partake in a population health study, called the Healthy Nevada Project, the chance to get sequenced through personal genomics company Helix.

Nevada-based healthcare provider Renown Health and environmental sciences focused Desert Research Institute launched the project in 2016 to investigate and model the public health risks of the local population using their genomic, environmental, health history, and socioeconomic data. The project led to the formation of the Renown Institute for Health Innovation which aims to build a large health determinants database.

The pilot phase of the project enrolled 10,000 participants from northern Nevada in 48 hours, and within 60 working days, each participant donated a DNA sample for genotyping by consumer genomics firm 23andMe.

In that initial phase, participants received free access to 23andMe's consumer genetic testing service. In the second phase of the project, slated to begin enrollment this spring, an additional 40,000 participants will have their exome sequenced and receive a free genomics digital application from Helix.

Helix last year launched a genomics marketplace where consumers can get exome sequencing through the company then order online applications that analyze that raw data in different contexts such as ancestry, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, family planning, and disease risk assessment. After being sequenced and receiving the initial free app for volunteering in the Healthy Nevada Project, participants can purchase additional apps and further explore their genomic data based on their interests.

"Our pilot phase used genotyping, which was a great start, but moving to exome sequencing and inviting an additional 40,000 people to participate will dramatically accelerate what we can learn about the human genome and has the potential to greatly improve preventative health and create incredible potential for new scientific discoveries," Joseph Grzymski, principal investigator of the Healthy Nevada Project, said in a statement.