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September 22nd, 2016

Minority Health Issues in Precision Medicine Research

By Sharon Rosen

An ongoing challenge in medical research is to represent minority and underserved populations in the quest for scientific discoveries aimed at improving understanding of disease and health. In fact, many different racial/ethnic and demographic groups have higher rates of certain diseases and more complications and deaths from these conditions compared to the general population. Yet many racial/ethnic groups are often not included in medical research efforts. That makes it difficult to develop effective prevention and treatment for minority health issues.

Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable

Dr. Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable

Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIHMD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will share his perspectives on ways to reduce health disparities during a panel discussion entitled “Precision Medicine Initiative: From Implementation to Impact” at  Individualizing Medicine 2016: Advancing Care Through Genomics, hosted by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine,  in Rochester, Minn., on Oct. 5-6.

Dr. Pérez-Stable and the other panelists will discuss ways to include more minorities in the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, a research effort that aims to advance the understanding of disease and shepherd in a new era of individualized medicine by building a national research repository of demographic data, socio-economic factors, personal history, blood and tissue samples, health records and environmental data from one million or more participants.

“There are many benefits to recruiting diverse populations to participate in the Precision Medicine Initiative. This rich research resource provides a unique opportunity to understand the health issues impacting all population groups. The benefits extend far beyond the availability of genomics and other biomarkers for diverse populations. It will also include the systematic collection of social information, demographics and clinical data that will help us understand those mechanisms that lead to health disparities,” says Dr. Pérez-Stable.

In his first post on the new NIMHD Insights blog, Dr. Pérez-Stable explains the Institute’s two focus areas for scientific research: minority health issues and health disparities that negatively impact low income and minority groups.

How do these issues impact care for patients? What can we learn from studying these differences? Dr. Pérez-Stable offers several examples:

  • Many minorities experience traumatic events early in life. This stress may trigger biological processes that can lead to chronic diseases in adults. This finding has great implications for how to improve health care for children who have experienced a negative event.
  • Exposure to carcinogens, such as tobacco smoke, leads to an even greater risk of lung cancer in some racial and ethnic groups, compared to the general population. By studying these populations, we may gain new insight into the causes for cancer for minorities as well as the general population.
  • Poor persons living in one urban environment appear to live an average of four years longer than poor people in a different urban environment. Understanding why may help us improve health outcomes for these populations.
  • Treatment outcomes for persons with diabetes vary by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and health literacy. Learning why this occurs will help physicians modify treatment and improve care for these patients.

Other participants in the panel are Kathy Hudson, Ph.D., deputy director, Science, Outreach, and Policy at NIH who is leading the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative, and Gabriel Shaibi, Ph.D., associate professor, Southwest Borderlands Scholar, and director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Arizona State University.

Moderated by Janet Olson, Ph.D., assistant professor of Epidemiology at Mayo Clinic, the session will also cover:

  • Practical research applications for the genomic, demographic and clinical information gathered through the initiative
  • Barriers to implementing the initiative and potential solutions to overcoming these challenges

Join us to learn more

Attend this session and many other presentations and breakout sessions that feature leading experts discussing the latest research in precision medicine at Individualizing Medicine 2016: Advancing Care Through Genomics. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, is hosting the fifth annual genomics conference, October 5–6, in Rochester, Minn.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine is hosting the conference with support from the Satter Foundation.

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Tags: #Advancing Care Through Genomics, #CIMCon16, #Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable, #Dr. Gabriel Shaibi, #Health Disparities, #MayoClinicCIM, #Minority health, #National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, #NIHMD, #Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program, #PrecisionMedicine, center for individualized medicine, Dr. Kathy Hudson, mayo clinic, National Institutes of Health, NIH, Uncategorized

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