I’ve Got My Genetic Profile, Now What?
Nicholas F. LaRusso, M.D., Charles H. Weinman Endowed Professor of Medicine, is Director of the Center for Innovation at Mayo and a Distinguished Investigator of the Mayo Foundation.
Prior to becoming Center Director in 2008, he was Vice Chair for Research of the Department of Medicine (DOM), Chair of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Chair of the DOM at Mayo Clinic. Before assuming a faculty position at Mayo in 1977, he was a guest investigator at the Rockefeller University in the laboratory of the Noble laureate, Christian de Duve. A member of the American Association of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, he is the former editor of GASTROENTEROLOGY and past president of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Among other honors, he is a recipient of a MERIT Award and the Principle Investigator on two R01s from the NIH; he also received Distinguished Achievement Awards from both the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) and the AASLD, and the Distinguished Mentor Award of the AGA. He is currently President of the AGA.
He received his undergraduate degree (magna cum laude) from Boston College, his M.D. degree from New York Medical College, and his training in internal medicine and gastroenterology at Mayo, the latter as an NIH fellow in the laboratory of Alan Hofmann.
Question: What initiatives are you working on at Mayo?
Nicholas LaRusso: We now have active pilot projects testing the ability to provide what we call eConsoles, or virtual consoles, electronically to providers all over the country, primary care providers. We believe that the initial effort should not be directly to patients but the patients to their primary care provider because we think that patients are ultimately going to need a continuous relationship with a team of providers in their own community. That’s a second initiative that we have. It’s something called the Advanced Medical Home where we’re organizing teams of providers to maintain a continuous relationship with patients within their community.
The third initiative, that gets to the genetic profiling, is we’re trying to understand through designer-centered research. This is available commercially. There are three companies out there that will provide you with a genetic analysis if you provide them with the biological specimen, whether it’s a blood sample or a spit sample or a hair sample. We’re trying to find out what do patients expect when they do this, and when they get the information that says they have, based on your genetic profile, 40% increased chance of getting type II diabetes or threefold increase in the chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. How do they understand that? How does that affect the way they think about their health? What do they do with that information? What do the primary care providers that they may go to with that information, how do they understand it? How does this affect their ability to modify their lifestyle? And so, that will be a third concrete project that we’re engaged in.
Recorded on: June 24, 2009.
Dr. Nicholas LaRusso wants to help people modify their lifestyles based on their DNA.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Great again? Why America stopped looking forward to the future
- Income inequality is dividing Americans.
- Wages haven't risen in 30 years, while prices for housing, schools, and basic goods has.
- Canny (and uncanny) politicians have learned how to milk the politics of fear by comparing the present to the past.
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