JAX launches new clinical genomic testing programs for healthcare providers

Bar Harbor, Maine – The Jackson Laboratory’s clinical and continuing education group, made up of former staff members from the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG), has launched three new training programs to help healthcare providers integrate genetics and genomics into clinical care.

Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer: Is Your Patient at High Risk? was developed in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program includes seven interactive case studies to help primary care providers identify, evaluate and manage patients with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Clinicians who complete this program are eligible for up to two Category 1 CME credits through Michigan State University.

Genomics for Child Neurology teaches effective risk assessment, the logistics of ordering and interpreting appropriate genetic and genomic testing, and strategies for communicating with children and families about test results. For neurologists and genetic counselors who see pediatric patients, this program will improve the diagnosis and management of neurologic disorders of infancy and childhood that have a genetic or genomic basis. The program includes case studies of patients with POLG-related disorders, whose overlapping signs and symptoms include disturbances in muscle, nerve and brain-related functionality. The program also addresses Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and other genetic test results with complex variants and interpretations. Fact sheets on these and many other genetic/genomic disorders are provided. The program also includes modules on collecting and assessing family history and inheritance patterns, guidance on collaborating with genetic specialists, checklists for obtaining informed consent and other tools.

The third new program, ABCs of Chromosomal Microarray, is a resource to aid developmental and behavioral pediatricians in ordering and interpreting results from chromosomal microarray testing, or CMA. CMA can detect a number of different genetic disorders and is frequently ordered when developmental problems of unknown cause are present. The test can also identify a certain type of genetic state, known as copy number variation, that has been associated with conditions such as developmental delay, autism spectrum disorder and other congenital disorders.

“Genomic information is important to all areas of medicine,” says Kate Reed, who directs the clinical and continuing education program at JAX. “For genomic information to make an impact in patient care, healthcare providers must have the knowledge and skills to apply it appropriately to patients. NCHPEG developed these programs to focus on genomics concepts and skills that are most relevant to clinical audiences. Participants will take away knowledge, skills and easily accessible point-of-care tools to use with their patients.”

The programs are available at no charge, along with many other interactive modules and related materials, on the NCHPEG website.

NCHPEG was established as an independent nonprofit organization in 1996 by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Its mission is to integrate genomics into health care practice by improving the informed use of genomic testing and resources. In October 2013, some NCHPEG staff transitioned to The Jackson Laboratory, forming the foundation of the JAX clinical genomics education program for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and a new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs a total staff of more than 1,600. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.