The term Big Data is used to describe massive volumes of both structured and unstructured data that is so large and complex it is difficult to process and analyze. Examples of big data include the following: diagnostic medical imaging, DNA sequencing and other molecular technologies, environmental exposures, behavioral factors, financial transactions, geographic information & social media information. It turns out that Big Data is all around us! As Leroy Hood once commented, “We predict that in 5 to 10 years each person will be surrounded by a virtual cloud of billions of data points” (see figure 1). Genome sequencing of humans and other organisms has been a leading contributor to Big Data, but other types of data are increasingly larger, more diverse, and more complex, exceeding the abilities of currently used approaches to store, manage, share, analyze, and interpret it effectively. We have all heard claims that Big Data will revolutionize everything, including health and healthcare.
A blog devoted to discussing best practices and questions about the role of genomics in disease prevention, health promotion and healthcare.
October 30th, 2014 3:12 pm ET - Muin J Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
October 30th, 2014 1:32 pm ET - Guest Blogger
Marta Gwinn, Consultant, McKing Consulting Corp, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Clifford McDonald, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, NCEZID, CDC
The evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is occurring at an alarming rate and is outpacing the development of new countermeasures.
–White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, September 18, 2014
In the contest between humans and pathogens, each faction has an evolutionary advantage: we have the brains to plot antimicrobial strategies but they have the means to defeat them through rapid reproduction, genetic selection, and recombination. Pathogens act faster, so we have to act smarter.
CDC’s recent report on antibiotic resistance threats estimated that 2 million people each year are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and 23,000 die as a result. This month, the White House issued a new National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria [PDF 481.02 KB]. CDC is working with state, national and international public health partners to address this threat through a combination of preventive strategies, stronger surveillance, and use of innovative diagnostic tests.
October 9th, 2014 3:13 pm ET - Guest Blogger
Muin J. Khoury, Office of Public Health Genomics and Krista Crider, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In September 2014, one of us (MJK) spoke on the topic of epigenetics at the Annual Meeting of the Association for State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). ASTHO is a national organization representing public health agencies in the United States. ASTHO members formulate and influence public health policy and practice. In the midst of a busy agenda, state health officials were interested in learning about epigenetics as a new and evolving area for public health practice. Why is that?
At the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics, we have been tracking the progress of genomics and related fields and their impact on clinical practice and disease prevention. In our evidence-based table and recent highlights of the year, we have mentioned an increasing number of genomic tests and applications for which evidence-based recommendations exist and can save lives today. Epigenetics so far has not made it on the list!
September 10th, 2014 12:30 pm ET - Guest Blogger
Scott Bowen, OPHG and Brad Bartholow with National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC Staff
We must continue to search for new methods to effectively address the tremendous problem of suicide. Despite recent interest, genomics does not provide the solution today, but there is a lot that we can do now using an established public health approach to prevention.
Millions were shocked by the news that comedian Robin Williams had died by suicide. The star is remembered for more than just his energetic roles but also his work to help charitable causes and to entertain U.S. troops abroad. But the joy he gave to others stood in sharp contrast to the challenges he faced in his own life: depression, addiction, and more recently Parkinson’s Disease. The revelations brought many to contemplate what more could be done to identify the risks and prevent suicide and what hope, if any, emerging fields of science like genomics might offer.
August 21st, 2014 3:41 pm ET - Muin J Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In 2007, we published a paper entitled: “Will genomics heal or widen the schism between medicine and public health?” We explored the long standing split between medicine and public health and how the emergence of genomics and other technologies can affect it. The “schism” was identified by Kerr White in his 1991 book in which he described a growing gap between individual- and population-based approaches to improving health in the 20th century. Kerr stated “today, the two cultures “medicine and “public health” seem to live in different, often unfriendly worlds”. Advances in genomics are fueled by the investigation of biological mechanisms of disease, leading to personalized treatment. On the other hand, public health emphasizes the study of environmental and social influences on health and disease, focusing on health promotion and disease prevention.
Nobody is average but what to do about it? The challenge of individualized disease prevention based on genomics
July 2nd, 2014 12:51 pm ET - Muin J Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Each week, Garrison Keillor shares with National Public Radio listeners the latest news from Lake Wobegon where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” The concept of “average” is deeply rooted in our scientific analysis of all health related traits such as height, weight and health indicators (such as blood sugar, cholesterol) and in assessing the likelihood of developing disease. There are several ways to measure average such as mean, median and mode that reflect different approaches towards evaluating central tendencies. For every characteristic, we graph the distribution values in the population (e.g. the Normal distribution, see figure) and quantify averages and variation in values in the “population” and its various subgroups.
May 15th, 2014 1:08 pm ET - Muin J Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In the United States, the 5 leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke), and unintentional injuries. On May 2, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an MMWR report on the annual number of potentially preventable deaths from these 5 causes in the United States. The data suggest that at least a third of those deaths every year are potentially preventable. The analysis compared the number of observed deaths in each state with an expected number that is based on average death rates for the three states with the lowest rates for each cause. States in the Southeast had the highest number of potentially preventable deaths. Therefore, potentially a large health impact may be achieved if states with higher rates were able to reduce the prevalence of risk factors for leading causes of death to the average of the three lowest states. Nevertheless, press coverage of this important report tended to sensationalize and overinterpret the results of these types of analyses with statements like “Living in the Southeast is bad for your health”; or “lifespan to do more with geography than genetics”.
April 3rd, 2014 12:21 pm ET - W. David Dotson, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Michael P. Douglas, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Katherine Kolor, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Previously, CDC’s Office of Public Health Genomics announced a list of health-related genomic tests and applications, stratified into three tiers according to the availability of scientific evidence and evidence-based recommendations and systematic reviews. The list is intended to promote information exchange and dialogue among researchers, providers, policy makers, and the public.
Initially the table relied on generalized examples of how genomic applications could be classified among tiers. We planned to expand it, however, populating it with specific examples. The table grew quickly, and previous blogs describe the addition of specific cancer genomic tests and family history applications. Then we moved on to include pharmacogenomics tests in the table and that’s where things got really interesting!
March 20th, 2014 1:45 pm ET - Muin J Khoury, Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
On March 5-6, 2014, I attended the 7th annual Future of Genomic Medicine (FoGM) conference [PDF 778.13 KB], hosted by Dr. Eric Topol at the Scripps Translational Science Institute. The audience included more than 500 participants from various fields including genomics, clinical medicine, laboratory medicine, industry, economics, social and communication sciences, patients and the press. The gathering featured a cast of outstanding presenters and panelists including Craig Venter, former Vice President Al Gore, the patient from the future [PDF 778.13 KB] and many others [PDF 778.13 KB]. This was an enthusiastic audience of early adopters who are working tirelessly to make the vision of genomic medicine a reality.
March 6th, 2014 10:51 am ET - Scott Bowen, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
Announcing New Tier 1 CDC Public Health Genomics Toolkit and Video Resources
Impact… Scalability… Innovation… Evidence-based interventions… Surveillance and evaluation… Partnerships… Timely information to health care, the public, and decision makers… Commitment… These elements are crucial to any public health accomplishment and are recurring themes in 2 new public health genomics resources.
Nearly 2 million people in the United States are at increased risk for adverse health outcomes due to one of the following conditions Lynch syndrome (LS), hereditary breast/ovarian cancer (HBOC), and familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Because, at present, these conditions are poorly ascertained by the healthcare system, many individuals and families affected by them are not aware that they are at risk; however, early detection and intervention could significantly reduce morbidity and mortality. Because of their unique ability to partner, facilitate, and provide leadership across the health sector, public health departments have important roles to play in reducing the burden of these conditions.
Public health genomics implementation to save lives – from national vision to state success is a video produced in partnership with Genetic Alliance featuring prominent public health and health care provider, payer, and patient leaders. The web available program provides a scope that moves from the national vision for impact to actual achievement in one specific state example: Michigan. The video includes a primary focus on LS and HBOC and includes specific key steps to be taken, the crucial importance of partners, lessons learned, results, and next steps.
- colorectal cancer
- evidence-based medicine
- family history
- genetic counseling
- heart disease
- personal genomics
- personalized medicine
- Population screening
- public health
- whole genome sequence
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