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Too Trying to Get Reimbursements

Howard Jacob is leaving the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology after three years there, reports. He was the executive vice president for genomic medicine and chief medical genomics officer there.

Jacob came to HudsonAlpha in 2015 from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Shortly after his arrival, the institute opened a center for clinical whole-genome sequencing, called the Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine, with the aim of being able to diagnose patients with rare diseases. In 2015, Jacob said the cost of sequencing and analyzing patients' genomes would be around $6,000 and likely not covered by health insurance companies.

That, says, has been a sticking point for Jacob. He tells the news site that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, the most prominent insurer in the state, wouldn't pay for such testing. "The hard part is that reimbursement for genomics is just not there," Jacob says. "I think everybody was hoping we'd be able to move this faster on the clinical side."

Rick Myers, the president and science director of HudsonAlpha, says in a statement that the institute has been able to show that genomic medicine can "[provide] answers to hundreds of families in Alabama" and that it will work with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and other Alabama healthcare organizations 

Jacob has joined AbbVie as vice president of genomic research.