A Vision for Your Future Genetic Health

Perhaps your grandfather died from heart disease at age 60 and your father at 65. You and your siblings may be at risk for that same condition. Genetically, you may have even passed these same risks on to your children and grandchildren.

Wouldn’t you rather leave them with a healthy legacy?

Over a decade ago, scientists at the University of Utah capitalized on a long and rich history of genetic discovery. Some of the most renowned geneticists at the University—including Ray White, Ray Gesteland, Mark Skolnick, Lynn Jorde, Mark Yandell and resident Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi—created genetic technology and discovered more than 30 genes that cause major diseases, both common and rare. Today we see the impact of these discoveries, many of which have revolutionized both personalized and population medicine for all time.

Today, scientists are racing to discover the genes that cause diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. Tomorrow your doctor will be able to examine your Genomic Electronic Health Record (GEHR) to determine: Conditions for which you and your family are at risk, how you and your family can minimize the chances of getting a disease, and personalized drugs that work the best to fight your disease

Trying to find the genetic cause of disease by comparing the 3 billion base pairs of DNA found in every human genome is like looking for one misspelled word in all the books in the Library of Congress. Researchers at the University of Utah Health Sciences have built world-class computational tools that are able to analyze the genomic sequences of a family, to see causation more clearly. Utilizing the ancestral power of the Utah Population Database [UPDB]—the world’s largest repository of family histories and public health records linked also to clinical records—we are identifying families affected by a disease, comparing their genomic sequences, and finding the genetic cause of their disease. Once genes are identified we can create tests and treatments for people throughout the world who are at risk for a serious disease.

By combining Utah's rich family resources with affordable genome sequencing, the Utah Genome Project offers a fresh angle and a powerful approach for disease-gene identification. The data generated by the Utah Genome Project can become an international resource for genetic research. Ultimately, the genetic discoveries enabled by this project will promote efficient, personalized health care.

Your genetic data will one day give your doctor a view of your past, present and future health.


About the Author:

Joe BorgenichtDirector of Special Initiatives, Public Affairs at University of Utah Health Sciences.