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Why We Can't Wait: Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine

SAN FRANCISCO Researchers in genomic health disparities from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and the Stanford University School of Medicine have teamed up to hold the second annual "Why We Can't Wait: Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine." The theme of this year's conference will be the role of nonprofits, business and government to reduce these disparities.

Despite steady improvement in the overall health of the United States, individuals within underserved groups continue to be more vulnerable to lapses in care and are at increased risk for health problems. Health disparities have had an especially profound effect on the overall health of Hispanics/Latinos and blacks in the United States.

"To promote equitable dissemination of the benefits of genomic medicine, genomic and translational research must be performed in diverse populations. Unfortunately, underserved populations are underrepresented in most research, including genetic research," said Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., director of UM's Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and an international leader in genomics research, a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, and a board-certified Ph.D. medical geneticist.

"We believe genomic medicine holds great promise for transforming health care. However, there is a real risk it could further increase health disparities," said Carlos Bustamante, Ph.D., founding director of the Stanford Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics, whose research focuses on human population genomics. "The opportunity to head this off is rapidly slipping away. We need to involve stakeholders that have a vested interest in a positive outcome and who may have creative ideas for how to address the challenges we face. This is why we are focusing this year's conference on the role of and opportunities for industry, nonprofit organizations, and foundations."

This year's conference goals are:

  • Demonstrate the impact of genomic medicine on disparities in healthcare
  • Understand how underrepresentation in genomics impacts the private sector
  • Discuss the role of industry, payers, and nonprofit groups in addressing genomic health disparities
  • Create a forum for stakeholders to share expertise and to facilitate collaboration.

Keynote speakers will be: Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the agency which is primary funder of all medical research, Anne Wojcicki, Chief Executive Officer of 23andMe, a Mountain View, CA-based direct-to-consumer company, which recently launched a project to enroll for free 10,000 African-Americans to generate ancestry data as well as information on risk for complex disease, Barbara Stortz, Senior Vice President of SAP HANA Product Management, and John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Director of the John P. Hussman Foundation and President of the Hussman Investment Fund.

When: May 29-31, 2013
Where: The Palace Hotel, San Francisco
For more information:


Contact: Lisa Worley
University of Miami

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