Genomic Medicine Institute News: 2015

GMI Hosts 3rd Annual Genetics Education Symposium

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The Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) celebrated the10th anniversary of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare at it’s 3rd annual Genetics Education Symposium entitled “Genetics and Genomics: Integration into Clinical Practice,” (CME Course Director Charis Eng, MD, PhD, founding Chair of the GMI and founding Director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare) held at the InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland. The day-long symposium, which was attended by over 150 healthcare professionals and students, continues to grow and generate significant interest in the field of genomic medicine.

Description: 099907_09-10-15_0290_TM.jpgThis year a variety of engaging presentations were delivered, including: Referring Patients to Genetic Counseling/Testing by Daniel Sullivan, MD, Principles of Pharmacogenomics by Kevin Hicks, PharmD, PhD, History and Progress of Medical Genetics by Timothy Moss, MD, Tumor Genetic Profiling by Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH, and a spirited panel discussion on the Reimbursement of Genetic Testing with Stephen Lucht, MD, Jacqueline Riley, MS, LGC and Bruce Rogen, MD, MPH.

“Precision medicine is like anything else. The biggest enemy is the bureaucracy”

Description: 099907_09-10-15_0167_TM.jpgDr. Tony Wynshaw-Boris, Chair of the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, delivered the keynote address: “Chromosome Therapy: Rescue of Ring Chromosomes by Cellular Reprogramming.”

GMI appreciates the generous sponsorship provided by Appistry, CompanionDx, Counsyl, GeneDx, Genzyme, Invitae, Myriad, Personalis, Pfizer, Sequenom and Shire.


CPGH Honored with Best Full Member Abstract Award

Description: gmi:Dept:Dept Photos:GMI personnel photos:_GMI:Schreiber_A:allison.jpgThe Center For Personalized Genetic Healthcare (CPGH) will be well-represented at the National Society of Genetic Counselor’s (NSGC) annual meeting this fall! Allison Schreiber, MS, LGC, genetic counselor within CPGH, was selected for Best Full Member Abstract for “Assessment of complexity among cancer, cardiovascular, general pediatric/adult, and prenatal genetic counseling at a single institute: a tool to improve efficiencies and help guide patient volumes.”

NSGC expert reviewer comments included, “Your study does a marvelous job of exploring the issue of what is a fair caseload across the subspecialties of a clinical genetic counseling practice,” and “This study will aid clinic managers tremendously. It is well organized and well executed.”

In addition to this award, additional CPGH genetic counselors will be represented at the meeting. Jessica Marquard, MS, LGC will be presenting a platform, Brandie Leach, MS, LGC, and Marissa Smith, MS, LGC are speakers, and Brittany Psensky, MS, LGC, Ryan Noss, MS, LGC and Christina Rigelsky, MS, LGC will be exhibiting posters.

Congratulations to all!


GMI Celebrates Three Staff Promotions

David Serre Angela Ting Bin Zhang

Congratulations to three faculty members of the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) on their recent promotions. David Serre, PhD, Angela Ting, PhD, and Bin Zhang, PhD, have all been promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. These appointments represent a major landmark in their academic careers and we wish them continued success.


New Research Collaboration between GMI and CompanionDx™

Charis EngKevin HicksGMI is pleased to announce that Charis Eng, MD, PhD, and Kevin Hicks, PharmD, PhD, will be the national coordinating investigators for UPGRADE (Utility of PharmacoGenomics for Reducing Adverse Drug Effects). UPGRADE is a multicenter registry sponsored by CompanionDx™ that includes up to 279,000 patients enrolled at up to 2,000 clinical sites.

The primary objective is to assess whether pharmacogenomics testing leads to clinically meaningful changes in a patient’s medication regimen.

“This exemplifies how academic-private partnerships can rapidly achieve meaningful translational research to support the practice of precision medicine,” said Dr. Eng.


Pauline Funchain receives Conquer Cancer Foundation Award

Pauline FunchainCongratulations to Pauline Funchain, MD, an Ambrose Monell Clinical Cancer Genomics Fellow in the Eng Lab who received a 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation ASCO Merit Award. This award recognizes exceptional scientific merit of research conducted by oncology fellows and residents early in their careers, and encourages attendance at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting. Pauline attended the Chicago meeting in June to present her abstract titled “Hereditary Implications of Somatic Tumor Testing.”


Doctoral Excellence Award in Molecular Medicine goes to Amanda Tilot

Amanda TlotGMI is pleased to announce that Amanda Tilot received the 2015 Doctoral Excellence Award in Molecular Medicine from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. This award was established to recognize outstanding graduate students in PhD programs. Successful recipients exhibited exceptional qualities in research, scholarship, service and collaboration.

Amanda earned her PhD in Dr. Charis Eng’s lab, and has accepted a postdoctoral position at the Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, beginning in May, 2015.


2015 Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Charis Eng

Charis Eng in ChicagoDr. Charis Eng, who received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago, was presented with the 2015 Distinguished Service Award at the Alumni Awards Reception in Chicago. This award, presented by the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, recognizes alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the Division of Biological Sciences/Pritzker School of Medicine and to the University of Chicago by demonstrating outstanding leadership in and making significant contributions to the biological sciences or medicine through research, clinical care, health service administration, public and professional service, or civic duties.


Ron Rerko shares his views on The Next Milestones for Personalized Medicine

RonRon Rerko, Director, Translational Development, was invited to participate on a panel at the MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum held in Chicago in May, 2015. MedCity Media and Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network (MHIN) connected investors with corporate business development executives to highlight investment opportunities with promising start-up companies. The panel examined recent and anticipated innovation in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine, as well as promising areas for investment.


Cleveland Clinic and Human Longevity Combine Efforts to Study the Genetics of Heart Disease

Description: ttp:// Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) and the Center for Clinical Genomics are excited to announce a broad research collaboration with Human Longevity Inc., (HLI), Dr. J. Craig Venter’s company in San Diego, CA. HLI is using genomic sequencing, the human microbiome, proteomics and advanced computing to tackle aging-related human diseases. Under the master agreement negotiated by Dr. Charis Eng, Chairperson, GMI, the initial project is in collaboration with Drs. Wilson Tang and Stan Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic to discover new disease-causing genes and disease pathways associated with heart disease. Read the Story

Dr. Eng notes a great deal of potential moving forward to collect and sequence thousands more samples. “Cleveland Clinic has these precious samples of DNA linked to well-annotated clinical information, and Human Longevity has the firepower with lots of the newest, most cutting-edge sequencers.” Dr. Tang also emphasizes the importance of this joint venture as a major step in building the infrastructure for clinical genomic medicine. “This unique opportunity brings clinicians and researchers from all disciplines to tackle some of the biggest challenges in our daily clinical practices using these powerful yet sophisticated technologies. We are hopeful that this also brings us a step closer to applying these tools at the bedside.”

Dr. Charis Eng on 19 Action News

Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Hardis Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) and Director of its clinical arm, the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, was recently interviewed by 19 Action News on the topic of “BRCA Testing: Am I at Risk?”.  Actress Angelina Jolie recently brought this particular genetic screening for breast and/or ovarian cancer to the forefront. After testing positive for a BRCA1 mutation, she chose to have a double mastectomy and eventually had both her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. The measures she chose were all in the name of being proactive, supported by research evidence, which Dr. Eng feels very strongly about.

Her advice for anyone who is concerned about their risk is to craft an accurate and thorough family health history and speak with a geneticist or genetic counselor. Genetic counselors are trained to help you determine which screenings may benefit you and protect your future health. Dr. Eng believes that too much inappropriate testing of women without the clinical red flags that denote increased inherited risk of cancer is dangerous. She worries that it can yield too many false positive or false negative test results, creating either unnecessary emotional turmoil or unwarranted relief, when there really should be extra attention and care.

“The more we abuse testing in the wrong situation, the more expensive it will be . . . we have to be good stewards of good genetics practice.” In the future, BRCA1 and BRCA2 screening may become a routine part of care once you reach a certain age, but Dr. Eng feels our system is not yet ready for mass testing. In the meantime, taking preventative steps like family health histories and genetic counseling can protect more women from cancer.