Thursday, July 2, 2009

Liaison Activity

Following is an update of recent events where I had the opportunity to represent the NSGC. The first meeting occurred on June 8th and 9th at the NIH in Bethesda entitled “Developing a Blueprint for Primary Care Physician Education in Genomic Medicine”. This meeting was spearheaded by Alan Guttmacher,MD, Acting Director of the NHGRI and W. Greg Feero, MD, PhD, the senior advisor to the Director for Genomic Medicine. This meeting had several co-sponsors including; ACHDNC, CDC, HRSA, NCI, NHGRI, NHLBI, ORDR and NNSGRC. This was an invitational meeting which proposed a work product that would be a 5 year blueprint for improving primary care clinician literacy in genetics and genomics.

Those in attendance included representatives from ACMG, AMA, ACP, AOA, ACPM, AAFP, PAEA, STFM, AACOM, SGIM, AAP, ACOG, in addition to several academic institutions as well as representatives from the above mentioned sponsors. It was a great opportunity to be at the table during such a critical juncture of health care decision making. The meeting began by focusing on the current landscape of primary care education in genetics and genomics from the perspectives of genetics, primary care and academic medical communities. We then identified the core education needs in genetics and genomics as defined by the primary care communities. We also indentified the opportunities and barriers that face efforts to enhance primary care provider literacy and proposed some concrete strategies to take advantage of existing opportunities for genetics/genomics education at various stages of primary care physician education. There was a separate focus on undergraduate medical education, resident training and practicing physicians to ensure the best chance for successful implementation. The importance of the role genetic counselors will play was shared by the participants and our opinions were highly valued.

Following the conclusion of this meeting, I flew to Boston (I won’t go into the details of the 3 hour delay at Dulles airport) to speak at the first Consumer Genetics Show. This was a show that focused on direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing and the latest advances in genomic medicine. There were many very high profile speakers and it was an honor to be included to represent the views of our profession. There were 200 plus attendees at this meeting including several genetic counselors. The attendees were a mix of mostly clinicians and industry representatives with some others representing the financial sector and a small number of actual consumers. I spoke about the “View from the Genetic Counselors” regarding our perspectives on DTC testing. I focused on our background and training and highlighted our expertise in dealing with complex genetic issues. One issue of emphasis was the importance of integrating one’s family history into all testing scenarios and stressed how without taking family history into account, patients could undergo undo harm. I also had time to address our new strategic plan and state our goal of preparing our members for the changing landscape of healthcare in addition to educating our members about the latest technologies so we would be in a position to be among the leaders of implementing genomic medicine across the healthcare spectrum.

It was a great opportunity to meet some of the people in industry as well as have a chance to learn about the great things some of members are pursuing. It was a great opportunity to represent our field in such a positive way to some of the people on the cutting edge of technology and medicine.

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