Information is Power: free breast and ovarian cancer genetic testing


HudsonAlpha embarks on unique genetic testing mission

Huntsville, Ala. — In October 2015, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will embark on a groundbreaking, community-wide women’s breast and ovarian cancer health initiative. The Institute will offer free genetic screening for genes related to breast and ovarian cancer for every woman in Madison County who is 30 years old.

The initiative, Information is Power, kicks off at HudsonAlpha’s annual breast and ovarian cancer fundraiser “Tie the Ribbons,” a lunch event held October 29, 2015 at the Von Braun Center.

In 1990, Mary-Claire King demonstrated that a single gene on chromosome 17q21, which she later named BRCA1, was responsible for breast and ovarian cancer in many families. Her discovery of BRCA1 revolutionized the study of inherited disease.

Over the next year, every woman residing in Madison County who is, or will be 30 years old between the kickoff event and October 28, 2016 will be eligible for a genetic test that identifies gene variations that increase one’s risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The test, created by Huntsville genetic testing company Kailos Genetics, offers consumer screening for the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as a set of genes known to be linked to breast and ovarian cancers.

“Information truly is power, and we have the power to provide valuable, potentially life-changing information to women right now,” said Richard Myers, PhD, President and Science Director of HudsonAlpha and one of the original scientists to decode the human genome. “Beyond making the very personal decision whether or not to do genetic testing, this also is an opportunity to launch important conversations between spouses, between mothers and daughters, and across generations.”

The idea for Information is Power emerged from a challenge issued to HudsonAlpha at the 2014 “Tie the Ribbons” event. Dr. Mary-Claire King, the keynote speaker and the scientist who discovered the BRCA genes, made an impassioned plea that this testing be made available in the Huntsville region.

Theresa Bayer is a breast cancer survivor who was originally against genetic testing, but losing her mother to breast cancer, surviving the disease herself and learning that her sister was BRCA1 positive, changed her mind.

“Once you’ve had breast cancer, you will do anything to not get it again. I am thankful for Dr. Mary-Claire King and her breakthrough breast cancer discovery of the BRCA1 gene,” said Bayer.

“HudsonAlpha’s tag line is ‘Science for life.’ What better example than genetic testing that can save lives? A project of this scope has never before been undertaken, and we are grateful to the many donors who have made this possible, and to Kailos Genetics for its commitment,” said Jim Hudson, CEO and co-founder of HudsonAlpha.

In addition to the free genetic tests offered to women aged 30, Kailos Genetics also is making the tests available at greatly reduced cost to both women and men who are 19 years of age and older in Madison County and surrounding counties over the next year, beginning at the “Tie the Ribbons” event.

“It is our goal to make genetic testing an option for all people who would like to access their gene-based information. This type of insight into genetic data can help people make smarter, more informed decisions for their health,” said Troy Moore, chief scientific officer of Kailos Genetics.

Funding for the Information is Power initiative will come from “Tie the Ribbons,” HudsonAlpha donors, as well as local municipalities.

The first kits will be available at the Tie the Ribbons event on October 29. Discount tickets to the lunch event are available until September 1. Register here

Please join us as we make history and support the health of the women and families of North Alabama and beyond. To learn more, visit