ASHG 2015 began yesterday with two great sessions. In the first, ASHG president Dr. Neil Risch reflected on the history of the organization and ASHG’s evolution over the years. In the second session, the Presidential Symposium on “Genetic Epidemiology at Scale: High Throughput Genomics Linked to Large Scale EHR systems,” Dr. Francis Collins talked about the precision medicine initiative. The vision is to assemble a longitudinal “cohort” of 1 million Americans and characterize them extensively with multiple samples. These include cell populations, proteins, metabolites, RNA, DNA and whole genome sequencing along with behavioral data, all linked to electronic health records. Dr. Naomi Wray suggested that SNP analysis is a much better and cheaper strategy than whole-genome amplification (WGA). Dr. Marylyn Ritchie from Geisinger Health System also gave a very interesting talk on the dynamic relationship between Omics and electronic health records.
The audience posed several questions to Dr. Collins about the precision medicine initiative. When asked why the program involves only Americans and whether it would be initiated in another countries, Dr. Collins responded that there are many similar studies being done globally that will eventually be integrated. He noted in response to a question about who will bear the cost of the study that President Obama and Congress have already approved the budget. What do you think of this new initiative? Let us know!