How does genomics and genetics research impact our world today?
Since the completion of the Human Genome Project nearly two decades ago, there has been an extraordinary leap in knowledge of the human genome and its role in health and disease. The human genetics and genomics fields are experiencing major growth, continually working to build upon our understanding of the human genome in order to improve medicine and the human condition.
To help illuminate this growth, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) recently released a report detailing how human genetics and genomics research impacts the U.S. economy, society, and healthcare. Let’s dive in and learn more about the impacts of genetics and genomics research on human health and the field of medicine, as well as the spillover effects on the economy.
In the United States, the human genetics and genomics field supports 850,000 jobs and generates $15.5 billion in tax revenue every year….that’s a higher dollar amount than the gross domestic profit of one-third of the countries in the world. The annual federal investment of more than $3 billion in human genetics and genomics has a return on investment of nearly five times that amount.
$3 billion is a big number and sometimes people wonder if we should be investing that much into genetics/genomics research. This report shows that investment is a worthy one.
Impacts of Genetics and Genomics Research on Medicine
Scientific advancements in biology and medicine contribute greatly to our daily lives. Below are some brief examples that barely even touch the tip of the iceberg of the impacts genetics and genomics research have had on biomedical discovery and the field of medicine.
- Advancements in technology and big data analysis: Whole-genome sequencing is used more frequently in basic and clinical research settings, leading to the availability of more publicly-available human genomes. The analysis of these large volumes of sequencing data provides a powerful pathway forward for biomedical discovery and clinical applications to improve human health.
- Genetic screening tests: Genetic screening tests can determine if a person is predisposed to a disease such as inherited forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease, or help diagnose diseases. They help doctors more effectively care for their patients by helping inform their recommendations for continued or additional screening, or determining the most appropriate treatment plan for their patient.
- Discovery of disease-causing gene variants: The growing use of whole-genome sequencing in the clinic has enabled scientists to connect previously unknown gene variants to certain diseases. This has been impactful in guiding the diagnosis of genetic diseases and disorders, especially rare diseases which collectively impact one in ten Americans.
- Drug development: The application of genetics and genomics information to drug development has resulted in many clinical successes over the past few decades, from improved cancer therapeutics to COVID-19 vaccines. The knowledge gained from the human genome provides molecular targets for therapeutics for treating genetic diseases.
- Pharmacogenomics: Genomic information has also proven helpful in the prescription of treatments. Doctors can use a person’s genetic information to choose the right drug and the right dose for them based upon their genome.
- Gene therapy: Still in its early stages, gene therapy aims to modify a person’s genes to treat or cure disease by replacing or inactivating the disease-causing gene, or introducing a new or modified gene into the body to help treat a disease.
How does HudsonAlpha contribute to this growth?
The human genetics and genomics fields rely on an educated base of scientists to make discoveries and are advanced through the development of new tools and technologies that power experiments and enable new insights into biological processes. Here at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, we support and take this sentiment to heart.
Whether they are discovering variants that cause rare childhood disorders, applying new technology to find proteins involved in chemotherapy resistance, or understanding how genome modifications contribute to autoimmune conditions, HudsonAlpha’s researchers aim to use the power of genetics and genomics to help improve the human condition.
Alongside the cutting-edge research, HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team sets out to inspire and train the next generation of life science researchers and workforce while building a more genomically-literate society. HudsonAlpha’s team of educators reach students, educators of all levels, medical practitioners and the community through a variety of learning opportunities. Over the past decade, HudsonAlpha has reached nearly 7.5 million people with these programs and resources.
As a whole, HudsonAlpha has generated $3 billion in economic impact for the state of Alabama and continues to help grow Huntsville’s reputation as the biotech hub of the South. More than 45 for-profit biotech companies call the Institute home and work collaboratively with the nonprofit researchers to solve some of the world’s most pressing health issues.
Advances in genomics and genetics research are changing the way we practice medicine. We can now analyze a person’s genetic data and use that information to help guide care and therapy, identify disease risk, develop customized treatments and more. Additionally, individuals can use that information to make more informed decisions and take control of their health.
To schedule a media interview with Dr. Neil Lamb or to invite him to speak at an event or conference, please contact Margetta Thomas by email at [email protected] or by phone: Office (256) 327-0425 | Cell (256) 937-8210