Why We Can’t Wait: Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine
San Francisco – Researchers from the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Stanford Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics (CEHG) at Stanford University School of Medicine successfully cohosted the second annual “Why We Can’t Wait: Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine.” This year’s conference examined the role of industry, foundations, non-profits, and government to reduce these disparities. Approximately 170 individuals representing a variety of disciplines and nationalities attended the conference in San Francisco, California, from May 29-31.
The conference’s 26 speakers demonstrated the impact of genomic medicine on disparities in healthcare, revealed how underrepresentation in genomics impacts the private sector, increased awareness of the role of the government, industry, and nonprofit organizations in addressing health disparities related to genomic medicine, and created a forum for stakeholders to learn from one another’s expertise and research. The keynote speakers included Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health; Anne Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer of 23andMe; and Barbara Stortz, Senior Vice President of SAP HANA Product Management.
“Addressing health disparities in genomics is an important issue at the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics. Hosting this conference gives us the opportunity to connect groups who are invested in doing something now to ensure that all individuals can benefit from genomic medicine in the future. We hope everyone who attended the conference has taken a message home with them,” said Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., conference co-chair and director of the Hussman Institute.
“We need to broaden ethnic representation in medical genetic studies to allow a larger fraction of the population to benefit from the promises of genomic medicine. Many genetic factors that influence disease risk may be population private,” said Carlos D. Bustamante, Ph.D., conference co-chair and founding director of the Stanford CEHG. “If we continue to focus largely on well-studied populations we risk perpetuating and even increasing existing health disparities. What is so important about this conference is that it brings together experts from diverse fields to exchange ideas and best practices ranging from recruitment and community engagement to sequencing technology and analysis.”
Interviews with the speakers and conference highlights will soon appear on the conference website. Plans are currently underway for the 2014 Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine to be held in Washington, DC.
The conference was made possible with funding from the Hussman Foundation, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health (R13MD008154), SAP, Oracle Health Sciences, Ancestry.com, Amgen, and the March of Dimes. It also received support from the Jay Weiss Institute for Health Equity at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, the American Society of Human Genetics, Genetics Alliance, and the National Society of Genetic Counselors.