Transforming the Future of Medicine - The Utah Genome Project
| Oct 8, 2012 1:00 PM
I’m not prone to exaggerating or making grandiose statements, but I’m about to say something that sounds like each of those things: The University of Utah is poised to transform the future of medicine. How? By tapping into rich databases of family trees and identifying genes at the root of such devastating and fatal diseases as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and many others.
That’s a big claim, but one I sincerely believe we are positioned to make happen through an initiative we just launched called the Utah Genome Project. There is no university in the world in a better position to do that than the U, and there are several reasons why:
- We have access to a one-of-a-kind resource called the Utah Population Database (UPDB), which is a storehouse of medical and genealogy records that is unmatched anywhere in the world
- We have large families who are famously cooperative when it comes to participating in studies.
- We have world-class researchers in genome sequencing, which is critical for finding disease-causing genes
- We have a culture of collaboration between physicians and researchers that makes huge advances possible
- We have ARUP, one of the largest reference pathology laboratories in the nation, poised to translate discoveries into clinical tests for patients all over the world
Using UPDB records to identify disease-causing genes in families already has helped U researchers to find causal genes for more than 30 diseases, including breast and colon cancer, cardiovascular ailments, and others. Countless people worldwide have benefited from those discoveries, and we can help many more in the same way through the Utah Genome Project.
To undertake a project of this scope, with such ambitious goals, is a monumental effort. And it’s going to cost money—a lot of money. With the costs of whole genome DNA sequencing coming down every day, it is now a perfect time to take on this challenge. Opportunities to improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide are rare. And when you find them, I believe you have a responsibility to seize them. Dr. Dean Li, chief scientific officer for University of Utah Health Care, told a gathering last week—now is the time and Utah is the place for this transformative research.
I invite everyone to learn more about the Utah Genome Project, and a great place to start is the video above. I know you will be as inspired as I am.
Author: Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
About the Author: Dr. Vivian S. Lee is the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Utah, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Utah Health Care. Read her full bio herecomments powered by Disqus