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Genome Medicine: Bridging the gap between research and clinical practice

Today, BioMed Central's premier open access medical journal Genome Medicine has officially launched with the publication of its January 2009 issue.

Genomic medicine is at the leading edge of medical advances and is one of fastest growing areas of biomedical research. Our growing understanding of the human genome and proteome is making it possible to identify the genetic changes that underlie human disease, and to offer a new set of tools for diagnosis and treatment.

Technological innovations are bringing us ever closer to an era of personalized medicine, in which treatment plans are optimized according to the genetic makeup of the individual and the characterization of their particular problem. Earlier diagnoses, improved prevention, and reduced risk of adverse side effects are just some of the benefits that are anticipated from this next generation of medicine.

The launch of Genome Medicine as an open access journal ensures that information on the latest research advances are available not just to researchers, but also to physicians and their patients around the globe, providing up-to-date information that will affect medical treatments.

Progress in genomic medicine will depend on effective collaboration between basic researchers and clinicians. Genome Medicine will feature a column, "Musings on Genome Medicine", written jointly by Dr David G Nathan, a leading physician, and Dr Stuart Orkin, a geneticist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The first column examines the significance of genome-wide association studies, suggesting that while these studies are useful, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on them have not allowed us to discover strong links between genetic variants and the risk for the majority of common diseases, and it is not at all clear that useful therapies will emerge from the associations that have been made. The column goes on to suggest that researchers must always focus most of their resources on experiments that are ultimately, most likely to contribute to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of health and disease.

The journal emphasizes research into the clinical use of new genomic diagnostics and therapeutics. The practice of genomic medicine brings with it a wide range of challenging ethical, social, and legal questions, and Genome Medicine has a special section focused on these areas. In the launch issue, Timothy Caulfield and colleagues discuss the practical and ethical challenges of using information relating to ethnicity and ancestry in medical research and warn 'Given the potential for misinterpretation and misapplication of research findings, great care must be used in the characterization of study samples and the interpretation of observations', noting that 'such rigor is often absent in the reporting of race and ethnicity in the biomedical literature'.

All disciplines of medical research are likely to be profoundly affected by the genomic approaches and technologies currently under development, and an understanding of developments in these areas is increasingly important to the effective practice of medicine. The new open access journal Genome Medicine will give scientists, clinicians and patients the information they need to make sense of this rapidly changing field.


Contact: Matt McKay
BioMed Central

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