Genomics Forum Blog

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Legal ruling blocks NIH funding of hESC research

What are your thoughts?

A US court has issued a temporary block against federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research as permitted by the Obama administration last year. The judge agreed with plaintiffs in a lawsuit contending that such research is illegal because it destroys embryos. In the court opinion, Judge Lamberth noted that he believed the case was likely to succeed. “ESC research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed. To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus, ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo.”

Court Opinion:

Current NIH Position:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Internship Opportunities!

From Genetic Alliance:

Good Afternoon Everyone!

I¹m writing to let you all know about the exciting internship opportunities
that we have here at Genetic Alliance! All interns make meaningful
contributions to Genetic Alliance projects and programs while providing an
invaluable level of program and administrative support for the organization.

Our Public Health Genomics Internship may be of special interest to members
of the Genomics Forum:

Public Health Genomics Intern
Help us transform the emerging field of public health genomics. Genetic
Alliance has strong ties with the American Public Health Association¹s
Genomics Forum and is engaged in a number of projects that will inform the
future of public health for rare and common conditions. This position will
reach out to other fields in public health, conduct research, and craft
white papers on future directions for early disease detection and
intervention. Join us in translating decades of research into the systems
and services that will help keep individuals, families, and communities
healthy. Genetic Alliance gives preference to applicants who are currently
pursuing or who have obtained a public health degree or can demonstrate
previous experience in the public health field, but all are welcome to

Please visit our website to find out more about the program and the other
types of internships that are available:

We look forward to receiving your application!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Vatican Enters Partnership to Advance Adult Stem Cell Research

This is the first time in history the Vatican is entering into a publicly-traded company to advance scientific research and promote adult stem cell research. They hope their efforts of donating 1 million dollars will advance the efforts of developing treatments for a variety of diseases.

To read the article: Vatican Enters Partnership to Advance Adult Stem Cell Research

Monday, April 5, 2010

Judge cites U-M researcher's work in landmark gene patent case

In the previously posted article (dated April 1, 2010), A New York District Court judge cited a University of Michigan expert's research this week in a landmark case invalidating patents on the BRCA genes, which are linked to increased susceptibility for breast and ovarian cancer. UM expert, Parthasarathy, has written several articles related to this topic and a book titled "Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care" (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007).

Please click this link to read the entire article!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GEDDI Salon and My Research

I recently was able to go to the GEDDI sponsored salon on Public Health Genomics at the University of Michigan. It was a wonderful chance for different stakeholders to get together to talk about the future of public health genomics and what we can do now to make that future better. One of the things that we talked about was the need to help physicians and patients to both be better educated about genomics and to communicate effectively.

Hearing other people including parents of children with rare genetic conditions and genetic counselors address this as a key problem to tackle made me more excited about my current research. I am working on a project with the VA to better understand VA patients and eventually clinicians understanding of genetic tests and the best methods to communicate results in a primary care setting. This project is just beginning so hopefully in the coming years we will be able to share some great insights.

Nicole Exe (Genomics Forum Secretary)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Newborn Screening for SCID!

It’s not every day that I say “woo-hoo!!!” during the announcements at my department’s weekly grand rounds. This is especially true, because they occur at 8:30 on Monday mornings, and frankly, the coffee usually hasn’t kicked in enough for me to accomplish more than staying awake. In spite of my decaffeinated state, though, I did “woo hoo!!!” this past week, because I learned that a new condition was added to the recommended list of newborn screening disorders.

On January 21, 2010, the Secretary's Advisory Committee for Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) unanimously agreed to recommend that Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) be added to the uniform newborn screening panel. SCID meets all of the classic criteria for a newborn screening (NBS) condition. Namely, babies with the condition are healthy at birth and for a period of time afterwards, and there is a known, effective treatment (bone or stem cell transplantation). If the babies are detected before they have serious infections, their survival rate is much higher. The technique for screening for SCID involves detection of a marker for T-cell development, call TRECs. While SCID itself is relatively rare (1:65,000-1:200,000), it is clear from Wisconsin, where screening for SCID began almost two years ago, that other children with T-cell lymphopenia will also benefit from this addition to the panel.

I’m anxious to get started here in Georgia. For now, though, I hope everyone will join me in giving their own personal “woo-hoo!!!” for ACHDND’s decision, and for all of the babies and families who will be spared from unnecessary suffering during the years to come. Woo-hoo!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

GWAS: advancing genomic research?

A recent New York Times article, featuring an interview with Duke geneticist David Goldstein, summarized Genome-Wide Association Scan (GWAS) studies as expensive and unable to identify disease-gene associations. While I agree that only a few SNP-disease associations have been identified to date, we should not forget about the exciting findings that have come out of this research. In the aggregate, about 90 cancer GWAS hits have been published in high impact journals as of early October 2009, including the 8q24, 11q13 and 17q24 regions for prostate cancer and the 8q24 and the 5p15.33 regions that have been identified in multiple cancers.

Given the complexity of diseases such as cancer, researchers are urged to view observed SNP associations as only a first step in understanding disease etiology. This is important because these SNPs may be genetic markers for other SNPs which may be driving host susceptability. Further, an individual's disease susceptability may be modified by exogenous factors, such as environmental exposures, occupational exposures, diet, infectious agenets, and other lifestyle exposures.

As we move into the age of full genome sequencing, researchers will be able to overcome the limitation of SNPs serving as genetic markers since data will be avaialble for the entire genome. This will not only allow researchers to identify the truly causual variant(s), but also to begin exploring SNP-SNP interactions, gene-gene interactions, pathway-based variation, and so on. Juxtiposing these data with exogenous exposure information will also allow researchers to start to understand the mechanisms of disease that may be highly dependent on environmental exposures, such as lung and bladder cancer. Until studies with whole genome sequencing are coupled with high quality exposure data, researchers should should view GWAS studies as the logical step, while expecting a range of genomic architectures underlying GWAS signals and that the model of a single gene resulting in a single outcome is less likely.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Genetics on TV!

Dr. Phil is doing a small segment on Genetic testing and it's controversies as well as GINA. If you are interested check it out! It was on today (1.20.10) and aired for the last 10 minutes or so of the show.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

ELSI Personal Genomics Seminar Series

I have been fortunate this year to be able to attend the ELSI Personal Genomics Seminar Series at the University of Michigan. This great series has had lectures on biobanking, gene patenting and research ethics for genome studies among others. Speakers have come in from around the country as well as Canada. It’s been great to get different perspectives on different ELSI issues. I’m really excited for an upcoming seminar featuring a point-counterpoint on direct-to-consumer marketing. If you want to check out the webcast of past episodes or find out the dates for upcoming seminars check out

Nicole Exe (Genomics Forum Secretary)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Health Care Bills are Unconstitutional?

An interesting opinion came out in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 2nd entitled "Why the Health-Care Bills Are Unconstitutional" by Hatch, Blackwell, and Klukowski.