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Change Afoot

Genomics appears to be at a clinical "inflection point," writes Gregory Feero from the Maine Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency at the CDC's Genomics and Health Impact Blog.

He says he was struck by the more clinical bent that this year's American Society of Human Genetics meeting had, as compared to previous events. ASHG, he notes, usually focuses on basic science, but from his scan of the vendors' booths and the posters, Feero says change appears to be afoot.

"Numerous vendors from academic and private industry were promoting clinical sequencing services, microarray technologies, and health informatics software relevant to managing genomics data," he notes. "Posters covered a very wide spectrum of topics but many dealt either with interrogating clinical data for genomic discovery or the clinical application of genomic technology in the context of ongoing health care delivery."

He adds that initiatives like the National Human Genome Research Institute's eMERGE, CSER, and IGNITE programs; the newly announced Precision Medicine Initiative at the National Institutes of Health; the Food and Drug Administration's plan to revisit its process for evaluating genomic technologies; and investment by health systems like Geisinger and Kaiser in population-scale sequencing all likely contributed to this change.

Still, Feero notes that it's critical for the community to "not lose the trees for the forest."

"In order to benefit the widest number of individuals possible, precision medicine must be predicated on a firm foundation of evidence of health benefit for each application and intended use," he says.

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