Bethesda, Maryland - The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM) announced today a formal collaboration under which the two organizations will facilitate the use of genomics in medicine through the education of health professionals.
“Genetics and genomics are evolving rapidly and reshaping significant areas of the healthcare landscape and medical education,” says Joseph McInerney, executive vice president ASHG. “To keep pace with these developments and translate them into healthcare, learners require accurate, current, and clinically useful information conveyed through high-quality educational products and programs,” says McInerney.
“As the individuals conducting research and implementing findings in the clinic, Mayo Clinic and ASHG members are particularly well suited to advancing genetic and genomic literacy at this significant inflection point in medical history,” says Keith Stewart, M.B., Ch.B., Carlson and Nelson Endowed Director, CIM, and Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Professor of Cancer Research. “By combining the expertise of our organizations and leveraging our resources collaboratively, we hope to fill this need and improve health outcomes.”
The first joint ASHG-CIM educational program, targeted to OB-GYNs and related health professionals, will address the use of prenatal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) screening in pregnant women. Analysis of cfDNA provides a method of non-invasive prenatal genetic screening by isolating DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood.
"Prenatal genetics is a rapidly moving area with unique clinical and ethical challenges. If we can help providers and patients have more comprehensive conversations around their prenatal screening and testing options, families can make the informed choices that are right for them,” says Megan Allyse, Ph.D., assistant professor, Mayo Clinic Biomedical Ethics Program.
“CfDNA testing has been marketed heavily by test manufacturers and rapidly adopted by clinicians, despite lingering concerns about inappropriate use and confusion about the interpretation of test results and how they should be communicated to patients,” added Michael Dougherty, Ph.D., director of education, ASHG. A series of short online modules and point-of-care tools produced by ASHG and CIM will help health professionals better integrate this genomic technology into their practices.