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Genetics and Biomarkers

The era of personalized medicine is here.  Genetics and the human genome project are offering unprecedented means of detecting and treating diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, as well as, chronic episodic conditions (e.g., depression, asthma) and less common diseases (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease). The vision is simple.  With a detailed understanding of a patient’s genetic profile and current physiologic status, we can accurately anticipate future risks and specifically choose the intervention that will be optimal. Geisinger Center for Health Research (GCHR) investigators, in collaboration with Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Research laboratory science investigators, are conducting research in three areas relevant to personalized medicine:

  • Screening and diagnostics: we are testing a variety of next-generation genetic and proteomic predictors to identify the patient’s medical problems before they manifest as full-fledged disease.  Early warning = better prevention.
  • Genetically guided dosing and prognosis:  Once a disease had already manifested, we can weigh our treatment options based on a variety of genetic markers that help us predict the patient’s response to drugs and procedures.
  • Drug design: we can use clues from genetic studies to tell us what genes are causing the disease.  Once we know this, we can fit drugs and drug combinations that target the broken physiological pathways and fix them.

Active areas of research interest include abdominal aortic aneurysm, morbid obesity, prescription opioid addiction, early detection of heart failure, colon cancer screening, and treatment response to use of asthma medications.