The first three focal areas – cancer genomics, pharmacogenomics, and neurogenetics – will be served by ongoing investments in basic research, and the emphasis on rapid transition from basic research findings to clinical setting (bench to bedside) through implementation of comprehensive genetic testing and application of results to diagnostics and treatment.

Implementation of comprehensive genetic testing for diagnostics and treatment

The program for comprehensive genetic testing aims to:

  • rapidly utilize findings of genetic markers from basic research
  • improve infrastructure for comprehensive genetic testing, making it more accessible to clinicians, especially in the domains of cancer genomics, pharmacogenomics, and neurogenetics

For example, the program for genetic cancer testing aims to routinely offer a comprehensive evaluation of the tumor and the germline, including tumor whole genome, whole exome, transcriptome, and proteomics using mass spectrometry as well as the whole genome of the germline. This program will also serve as a “feeder” to the early phase clinical trials, with 70% of patients offered a clinical trial option based on their genome. Comprehensive genetic assessment of patients can help develop precision diagnosis and treatment plans that reduce healthcare costs by optimizing individual treatment protocols.

Educating workforce for implementation of genomic medicine

Transition between pre-genomic and genomic eras in medicine relies on educating practitioners who can direct patients to utilize the advances in genomic medicine through appropriate referrals. Medical practitioners require ongoing continuing education to know what research breakthroughs can shape the treatment they offer patients; the general public requires genetic counselors to help them understand the implications and potential of genetic testing and genomic medicine.

For comprehensive and concise delivery of new findings in genomic medicine to clinicians, the certificate/CME/CE program in Genomic Medicine will be designed for healthcare providers (including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, genetic counselors, etc.). The program will improve their ability to understand and interpret genetic testing as it is becoming available. The scope of the program would include a review of basic genetics, new genomic technologies, available genetic testing applied to a range of disorders, biomarkers, etc. The online delivery option for the program will allow it to reach busy clinicians in remote areas.

To make the genomic approach to health care accessible to the patients, the number of precision genomics counselors (PCGs) being trained at IU Medical School will be substantially increased. The curriculum of currently existing genetic counselling programs will also be substantially expanded to meet the needs of interpreting and communicating the much broader, genomics-based diagnostic tests and therapeutics choices that patients and families need to make. The IU program for training PGCs aims to double the yearly numbers of students trained, while remaining at the forefront of research-based understanding of genomics-based diagnostic tests and therapeutics choices across the focus areas of the Genomic Medicine core.