It has been over a decade since the sequencing of the human genome provided crucial insight into the biology behind countless medical conditions.
But that was just one piece of a very complex puzzle as Dr. Donald Trump, CEO and Executive Director of Inova's Schar Cancer Institute explains.
"So if you look at the genome as the roadmap to a person's health, I think if you get smarter in understanding the roadmap, reading the map, we'll be able to do transformative things for the care of patients, their families, and future generations because my genes are passed down to my offspring. So its not just for me, but for all those who follow me in the genomic sense."
We now know that genetic factors play a role in nine of the ten leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Dr. John Niederhuber is CEO and founder of the Inova Translational Medicine Institute.
"I do believe very strongly that the information around a patient's genome is working and how that genome is working will be a major driver the decision process in patient care," says Dr. Niederhuber.
Genomics is also an important driver in empowering a patient to manage their own health.
Dr. Niederhuber says, "If you're doing really quite well right now, you're very healthy, but you have variants in your genome that predict you have a risk for developing type 2 diabetes, there are certain things that I think you would want to do. You would want to work with your healthcare system and your personal healthcare provider to optimize you putting that risk off as long as you can."
For some patients, 'putting off risk' for a disease might mean prophylactic surgery. Thousands of women who have tested positive for an altered BRCA 1 or 2 mutation have chosen prophylactic mastectomies to reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancers. And for those patients with a cancer diagnosis, doctors are approaching treatment plans differently.
To find out how genomics will impact the future of health, check out “Genomics: The Power to Predict.”