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U of Vermont Health Network Launches DNA Risk Screening Pilot Program

NEW YORK – The University of Vermont Health Network has launched a pilot program to offer DNA testing as part of routine medical care to detect patients' risks for diseases such as cancer and heart disease. 

The health system said Wednesday that the 12-month pilot began Nov. 1 at UVM's primary care sites. UVM Health Network is looking to screen about 1,000 adult patients who participate in the OneCare Vermont accountable care organization.

Invitae will provide the testing, which assesses 147 genes that are considered "well-established" indicators of risk for certain diseases. The San Francisco-based company will also screen for carrier status for other conditions. UVM Health Network will offer follow-up testing for family members when appropriate. The test, as well as genetic counseling with UVM Health Network's Genomic Medicine Resource Center, is free to patients in the pilot program.

"Vermont and other states are moving away from 'fee-for-service' healthcare and toward a system that emphasizes prevention, keeping people healthy and treating illness at its earliest stages," Debra Leonard, chair of pathology and laboratory medicine at UVM, said in a statement. "Integrating genetic risks into clinical care will help patients and providers in their decision-making."

UVM Health Network also is partnering with LunaPBC, the public-benefit corporation that operates the LunaDNA genomic data-sharing platform. Patients who opt for genomic testing will have the choice to share their results with researchers through LunaDNA.