Will Newborn Genome Sequencing Become a Reality?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 10, 2013


Imagine that immediately after birth, your baby could have a blood test to analyze his or her entire DNA sequence. Your pediatrician would receive a report that explains your baby’s genetic risks for developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Throughout your child’s life, health care providers could then integrate this information into a care plan for your child. For example, this data could compel a doctor to adjust your child’s diet or offer additional exams to screen for high-risk conditions during childhood.

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Genetic Culprit Identified in Progression of Alzheimer’s

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 15, 2013

Does genetics play a role in the varying rates of cognitive decline among Alzheimer's patients?

Thanks to some intercontinental teamwork, researchers have identified a gene that may help explain why certain Alzheimer’s disease patients experience a more rapid decline in cognitive (thinking) abilities.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) medical geneticist Dr. Robert C. Green first recognized that there may be a genetic explanation for why cognitive decline rates vary widely among Alzheimer’s disease patients after analyzing data from a large treatment trial. Even after screening out individuals with vascular disease and other medical conditions known to influence cognition, Dr. Green found that there was still significant variability in the rate of decline among remaining participants.

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Crowdsourcing Medical Innovation

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 28, 2012

Dr. Robert Green, winner of the first BRIght Futures Prize.

On November 15, 2012, the Biomedical Research Institute (BRI) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) held its first Research Day.  The day-long public celebration featured a discussion on the importance of medical research and included 150 poster presentations by leading BWH researchers on today’s hottest health topics, such as obesity, healthy aging, and personalized medicine.

But the highlight of BWH Research Day was the announcement of Dr. Robert Green as the winner of the $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize.  Just as exciting: the use of crowdsourcing, or relying on the collective wisdom of groups, to choose the winner.

Dr. Green was named the winner after nearly 6,500 people from around the world voted for the three finalists online.  Dr. Green and his research team are searching for effective and responsible ways to use DNA sequencing technology in newborns to help families understand a child’s genetic risk for developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.

In addition to Dr. Green’s project, the other finalists included a project jointly led by Drs. Phil DeJager and Elizabeth Karlson, whose proposal focused on using genetics and electronic health records to treat multiple sclerosis and a project led by Dr. Robert Plenge, whose proposal focused on the use of technology to unravel the mysteries of the immune system. Read our recent blog post to learn and view more about all three projects.

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When Memory Loss Is Cause for Concern

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 11, 2012

Losing your keys, forgetting a name, or missing an appointment—it happens to all of us and it can happen more frequently as we get older.  A certain amount of memory loss is normal as we age but some patients can experience memory loss that is greater than expected. These patients may be suffering from a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  Patients with MCI can live independently, unlike patients with dementia (severe loss of mental function), however, medical researchers are learning that MCI may be a warning sign of more serious illness.

Memory loss is normal as we age but sometimes it can indicate serious illness.

Several studies have found that patients with MCI have an increased risk of developing dementia.  Nearly 60% of patients with MCI develop Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia.  After being diagnosed with MCI, through a series of memory tests, patients can undergo genetic evaluation and specialized exams estimate the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease; however, it can be difficult for doctors to easily explain the test results to patients and their families.

Recently, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced a new study called the Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease Study (REVEAL).  The study’s goal is to learn how to communicate the results of genetic testing and Alzheimer’s risk estimates to MCI patients and their families so that they can gain a better understanding of what it means to have MCI, what are the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and how to cope with problems related to memory loss.

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Looking for an Election with Three Great Candidates?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 4, 2012

We have three great medical research ideas – but only one prize.

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Biomedical Research Institute (BRI) is going to award its first-ever $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize to one of three entrants next month, and they’re looking for your help.

Earlier this year, the BRI asked BWH staff to submit provocative medical questions that they would like to see answered by their research colleagues. From these responses, BRI leadership selected two themes and invited the BWH research community to design research projects to address these themes. These three projects were selected as finalists:

 

Exploring Genome Sequencing of Newborns – to determine responsible ways to use DNA sequencing to enhance patient care.

Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, BWH Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine

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