Geisinger Opens its Precision Health Center

Today, Geisinger Health System formally opened its Precision Health Center, a 14,000 square-foot, $562,000 facility that will house clinical research space as well as a patient care center with a first-of-its-scale telemedicine genomics program.

The company formally opened the cutting-edge center during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Forty Fort-based center will be home to highly specialized teams from Geisinger’s Clinical Genomics and Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI), and will serve as the primary location for Geisinger Research in northeastern Pennsylvania. The center’s ability to use real-time specialized video-conferencing software will allow Geisinger specialists and visiting national experts to consult with patients or their providers from anywhere in the world.

“The new facility certainly represents the introduction of genomic medicine in this region of Pennsylvania, and much of what we will be doing here will be completely groundbreaking in terms of research and direct patient care,” said Glenn D. Steele, Jr., MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of Geisinger Health System (GHS).

Using genomic data to guide patient care and disease management is a rapidly evolving area of medicine. It has gained popularity since endorsed by President Barack Obama with the creation of a federal Precision Medicine Initiative, which will be governed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Obama has proposed an initial budget of $215 million for the first year of the effort, which will conduct genomic sequencing as a way to better identify diseases and develop drugs that target specific genetic variants in individuals.

“The genomic data that will become available to our team at Forty Fort will allow us to give patients access to genomically informed health care in a manner and at a scale that has not been seen before,” said Michael Murray, MD, director of clinical genomics, Geisinger Genomic Medicine Institute. “In the facility’s initial phase, we will be consulting with people engaged in Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative; however we expect to expand the use of this cutting-edge telegenomics technology at the new Precision Health Center rapidly in order to extend this type of care to providers and their patients anywhere.”

Geisinger said that it is ahead of the federal initiative and is already engaged in a large-scale genomic effort designed to identify genetic variants associated with human disease in collaboration with Regeneron Genetics Center LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The companies announced the collaboration in January of 2014. Under the collaboration, the companies have already sequenced the exomes of more than 30,000 people, with plans to sequence 250,000 or more. Participants will be provided with any validated results of the sequencing that show understood genetic risks for disease, but others looking at the data will not have access to any identifying information on the participants.

Patients seen for clinical care at the center will be able to have their genome sequenced, interpreted and applied to their medical care by a comprehensive team. The facility will act as a resource to other institutions, providers and patients locally, nationally and internationally seeking a second opinion. Through telegenomic capabilities, the facility is designed to contribute to the development of best practices in this emerging field of medicine.

“Patients around the block or around the globe will be able to receive care from the center, with professionals delivering care on-site as well as through a state-of-the-art telehealth program,” said Dr. Murray. “The center will encourage scientific investigation and education through collaborations with colleges and universities, including clinical, health economics and pharmacy research programs.”

Source: Geisinger Health System

Last updated: 4/20/15; 4:10pm EST



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