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Introducing the CDC Office of Genomics and Precision Public Health: What’s in a Name?

Posted on by Muin J. Khoury, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

Public Health Genomics changing to Genomics & Precision Public Health with a checkmark and DNAStarting this week, the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics will be renamed the CDC Office of Genomics and Precision Public Health. In many ways, this transition has been a few years in the making and reflects the continuous broadening of our scope from human genomics and public health to include other areas relevant to “precision” health technologies.

The term precision medicine is now well accepted and refers to new approaches to treatment and prevention that take into account differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology. Precision medicine starts with the individual. It has a firm foundation in genomics, and other ‘omic’ fields (such as epigenomics and metabolomics). More recently, the term “precision” has made its way to the realm of public health. For some, the term precision medicine is used interchangeably with genomic medicine, and precision public health is viewed as the application of precision medicine in populations.

We think there is a bigger role for “precision” in measuring health and disease beyond genomics. Increasingly, a large volume of health and non-health related data from multiple sources are becoming available. Precision public health is about using the best available data by place, time, and persons, to target more effectively and efficiently interventions of all kinds to those most in need. Precision in public health is rooted in multiple determinants of health and disease, with an emphasis on social and environmental determinants that drive health outcomes and health inequities in the population.

Reflecting the field’s evolution, earlier this year, we announced that we are introducing the term “precision” in some of our products, including the CDC Genomics and Health Impact Update and the Public Health Genomics Knowledge Base. These products were renamed CDC Genomics and Precision Health Update and Public Health Genomics and Precision Health Knowledge Base, respectively.

And now, completing the cycle of change, the CDC Office of Public Health Genomics is being renamed CDC Office of Genomics and Precision Public Health. While some might view keeping the word genomics in the name as redundant or potentially distractive of the public health mission, we want to continue to recognize the historical origin of the field.

As always, we seek feedback and input from our readers and from users of our products. What topics would you like to see covered? Please submit your comments here.

Posted on by Muin J. Khoury, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia

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