HudsonAlpha, Drake State Bring Genomic Health Options to College Employees


Faculty and staff at Drake State Community & Technical College in Huntsville, Ala. are being given greater insight into their future disease risk thanks to a new collaboration with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance.

The voluntary program, offered as an employee wellness benefit and accessible through the Community Health Action Center on the Oakwood University Campus, will give Drake State employees access to genetic screening that can help identify disease risk as well as medication response to certain drugs.

“HudsonAlpha’s Health Alliance program opens up new wellness options previously inaccessible by most of our employees,’ said Dr. Patricia Sims, Drake State President. “We hope by providing this insight about their health risks our employees can make more informed health care decisions.” 

While most diseases are not caused by a specific change in a person’s DNA, there are some genes in which changes are known to cause a significantly increased risk of disease. This genomic screening test will look for known changes in a set of genes that are associated with an increased risk for an “actionable” disease.

Drake State faculty and staff can also learn how specific areas of their DNA might predict whether certain medications will be effective or if they are likely to cause adverse drug reactions. Often medications will prove effective for one person, while simultaneously ineffective for another person.

“The information we learn from genomic testing can provide insights into early disease risk detection and intervention, help us make better health decisions, and even target health therapies that lead to better health outcomes,” said Dr. Darrell Ezell, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for HudsonAlpha. “Making these types of tests more accessible to a broader section of our community is a focus of HudsonAlpha’s mission. Working with historically black colleges and universities such as Drake State is an important step to making genomic testing more accessible to all.”  

The HudsonAlpha Health Alliance was built to enable employers to advance their wellness programs through a collaboration with HudsonAlpha Health Alliance’s team of scientists, clinicians, and educators. Colleges, universities, health systems, self-insured employers, tribal nations and physician networks work with the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance to develop customized genomic health screening programs for their patient or employee populations.

The HudsonAlpha Health Alliance has similar programs in place with groups such as East Alabama Medical Center and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. For more information about how the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance can help you develop a customized genomic screening program for your group, visit https://hudsonalpha.org/alliance or email [email protected]org.

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About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. Opened in 2008, HudsonAlpha’s vision is to leverage the synergy between discovery, education, medicine, and economic development in genomic sciences to improve the human condition around the globe. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and fosters more than 40 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.

About HudsonAlpha Health Alliance: By integrating our expertise in genomics, patient engagement and education, as well as clinical decision support, the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance, LLC works with groups such as health systems, physician networks, and self-insured employers to develop customized genomic health screening programs for their patient or employee populations.

About Drake State Community & Technical College: Drake State Community & Technical College offers flexible, affordable university-transfer and technical degrees, certificates, adult and continuing education, and customized skills training to fulfill the diverse workforce needs of employers. In April 2021, Drake State began a year-long celebration of its 60th Anniversary including multiple campus events for students and the community. Visit www.drakestate.edu for more information.