Biomedicine is undergoing a revolution driven by high throughput and connective computing that is transforming medical research and practice. Using oncology as an example, the speed and capacity of genomic sequencing technologies is advancing the utility of individual genetic profiles for anticipating risk and targeting therapeutics. The goal is to enable an era of “P4” medicine that will become increasingly more predictive, personalized, preemptive, and participative over time. This vision hinges on leveraging potentially innovative and disruptive technologies in medicine to accelerate discovery and to reorient clinical practice for patient-centered care. Based on a panel discussion at the Medicine 2.0 conference in Boston with representatives from the National Cancer Institute, Moffitt Cancer Center, and Stanford University School of Medicine, this paper explores how emerging sociotechnical frameworks, informatics platforms, and health-related policy can be used to encourage data liquidity and innovation. This builds on the Institute of Medicine’s vision for a “rapid learning health care system” to enable an open source, population-based approach to cancer prevention and control.
biomedical research; crowdsourcing; health information technology; innovation; precision medicine
State health departments in Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and Utah explored the use of genomic information, including family health history, in chronic disease prevention programs. To support these explorations, the Office of Public Health Genomics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided cooperative agreement funds from 2003 through 2008. The 4 states’ chronic disease programs identified advocates, formed partnerships, and assessed public data; they integrated genomics into existing state plans for genetics and chronic disease prevention; they developed projects focused on prevention of asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions; and they created educational curricula and materials for health workers, policymakers, and the public. Each state’s program was different because of the need to adapt to existing culture, infrastructure, and resources, yet all were able to enhance their chronic disease prevention programs with the use of family health history, a low-tech “genomic tool.” Additional states are drawing on the experience of these 4 states to develop their own approaches.
The term P4 medicine is used to denote an evolving field of medicine that uses systems biology approaches and information technologies to enhance wellness rather than just treat disease. Its four components include predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory medicine. In the current paper, it is argued that in order to fulfill the promise of P4 medicine, a “fifth P” must be integrated--the population perspective--into each of the other four components. A population perspective integrates predictive medicine into the ecologic model of health; applies principles of population screening to preventive medicine; uses evidence-based practice to personalize medicine; and grounds participatory medicine on the three core functions of public health: assessment, policy development, and assurance. Population sciences--including epidemiology; behavioral, social, and communication sciences; and health economics, implementation science, and outcomes research--are needed to show the value of P4 medicine. Balanced strategies that implement both population- and individual-level interventions can best maximize health benefits, minimize harms, and avoid unnecessary healthcare costs.
Advances in genomics and related fields promise a new era of personalized medicine in the cancer care continuum. Nevertheless, there are fundamental challenges in integrating genomic medicine into cancer practice. We explore how multilevel research can contribute to implementation of genomic medicine. We first review the rapidly developing scientific discoveries in this field and the paucity of current applications that are ready for implementation in clinical and public health programs. We then define a multidisciplinary translational research agenda for successful integration of genomic medicine into policy and practice and consider challenges for successful implementation. We illustrate the agenda using the example of Lynch syndrome testing in newly diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer and cascade testing in relatives. We synthesize existing information in a framework for future multilevel research for integrating genomic medicine into the cancer care continuum.
The increasing availability of personal genomic tests has led to discussions about the validity and utility of such tests and the balance of benefits and harms. A multidisciplinary workshop was convened by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the scientific foundation for using personal genomics in risk assessment and disease prevention and to develop recommendations for targeted research. The clinical validity and utility of personal genomics is a moving target with rapidly developing discoveries but little translation research to close the gap between discoveries and health impact. Workshop participants made recommendations in five domains: (1) developing and applying scientific standards for assessing personal genomic tests; (2) developing and applying a multidisciplinary research agenda, including observational studies and clinical trials to fill knowledge gaps in clinical validity and utility; (3) enhancing credible knowledge synthesis and information dissemination to clinicians and consumers; (4) linking scientific findings to evidence-based recommendations for use of personal genomics; and (5) assessing how the concept of personal utility can affect health benefits, costs, and risks by developing appropriate metrics for evaluation. To fulfill the promise of personal genomics, a rigorous multidisciplinary research agenda is needed.
behavioral sciences; epidemiologic methods; evidence-based medicine; genetics; genetic testing; genomics; medicine; public health
Recent emphasis on translational research (TR) is highlighting the role of epidemiology in translating scientific discoveries into population health impact. The authors present applications of epidemiology in TR through 4 phases designated T1–T4, illustrated by examples from human genomics. In T1, epidemiology explores the role of a basic scientific discovery (e.g., a disease risk factor or biomarker) in developing a “candidate application” for use in practice (e.g., a test used to guide interventions). In T2, epidemiology can help to evaluate the efficacy of a candidate application by using observational studies and randomized controlled trials. In T3, epidemiology can help to assess facilitators and barriers for uptake and implementation of candidate applications in practice. In T4, epidemiology can help to assess the impact of using candidate applications on population health outcomes. Epidemiology also has a leading role in knowledge synthesis, especially using quantitative methods (e.g., meta-analysis). To explore the emergence of TR in epidemiology, the authors compared articles published in selected issues of the Journal in 1999 and 2009. The proportion of articles identified as translational doubled from 16% (11/69) in 1999 to 33% (22/66) in 2009 (P = 0.02). Epidemiology is increasingly recognized as an important component of TR. By quantifying and integrating knowledge across disciplines, epidemiology provides crucial methods and tools for TR.
epidemiology; genomics; medicine; public health; translational research
The recent success of genome-wide association studies in finding susceptibility genes for many common diseases presents tremendous opportunities for epidemiologic studies of environmental risk factors. Analysis of gene-environment interactions, included in only a small fraction of epidemiologic studies until now, will begin to accelerate as investigators integrate analyses of genome-wide variation and environmental factors. Nevertheless, considerable methodological challenges are involved in the design and analysis of gene-environment interaction studies. The authors review these issues in the context of evolving methods for assessing interactions and discuss how the current agnostic approach to interrogating the human genome for genetic risk factors could be extended into a similar approach to gene-environment-wide interaction studies of disease occurrence in human populations.
environment; epidemiologic methods; genetics; genomics
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have led to a rapid increase in available data on common genetic variants and phenotypes and numerous discoveries of new loci associated with susceptibility to common complex diseases. Integrating the evidence from GWAS and candidate gene studies depends on concerted efforts in data production, online publication, database development, and continuously updated data synthesis. Here the authors summarize current experience and challenges on these fronts, which were discussed at a 2008 multidisciplinary workshop sponsored by the Human Genome Epidemiology Network. Comprehensive field synopses that integrate many reported gene-disease associations have been systematically developed for several fields, including Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, bladder cancer, coronary heart disease, preterm birth, and DNA repair genes in various cancers. The authors summarize insights from these field synopses and discuss remaining unresolved issues—especially in the light of evidence from GWAS, for which they summarize empirical P-value and effect-size data on 223 discovered associations for binary outcomes (142 with P < 10−7). They also present a vision of collaboration that builds reliable cumulative evidence for genetic associations with common complex diseases and a transparent, distributed, authoritative knowledge base on genetic variation and human health. As a next step in the evolution of Human Genome Epidemiology reviews, the authors invite investigators to submit field synopses for possible publication in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
association; database; encyclopedias; epidemiologic methods; genome, human; genome-wide association study; genomics; meta-analysis
The authors describe the rationale and initial development of a new collaborative initiative, the Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network. The network convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health includes multiple stakeholders from academia, government, health care, public health, industry and consumers. The premise of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network is that there is an unaddressed chasm between gene discoveries and demonstration of their clinical validity and utility. This chasm is due to the lack of readily accessible information about the utility of most genomic applications and the lack of necessary knowledge by consumers and providers to implement what is known. The mission of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network is to accelerate and streamline the effective integration of validated genomic knowledge into the practice of medicine and public health, by empowering and sponsoring research, evaluating research findings, and disseminating high quality information on candidate genomic applications in practice and prevention. Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network will develop a process that links ongoing collection of information on candidate genomic applications to four crucial domains: (1) knowledge synthesis and dissemination for new and existing technologies, and the identification of knowledge gaps, (2) a robust evidence-based recommendation development process, (3) translation research to evaluate validity, utility and impact in the real world and how to disseminate and implement recommended genomic applications, and (4) programs to enhance practice, education, and surveillance.
decision support; genomics; information; medicine; network; public health
In recent decades, extensive resources have been invested to develop cellular, molecular and genomic technologies with clinical applications that span the continuum of cancer care.
In December 2006, the National Cancer Institute sponsored the first workshop to uniquely examine the state of health services research on cancer-related cellular, molecular and genomic technologies and identify challenges and priorities for expanding the evidence base on their effectiveness in routine care.
This article summarizes the workshop outcomes, which included development of a comprehensive research agenda that incorporates health and safety endpoints, utilization patterns, patient and provider preferences, quality of care and access, disparities, economics and decision modeling, trends in cancer outcomes, and health-related quality of life among target populations.
Ultimately, the successful adoption of useful technologies will depend on understanding and influencing the patient, provider, health care system and societal factors that contribute to their uptake and effectiveness in ‘real-world’ settings.
Genomics; Health services research; Emerging technologies; Translational research
The dizzying pace of genomic discoveries is leading to an increasing number of clinical applications. However, very little translational research is ongoing beyond Bench to Bedside to assess validity, utility, implementation and outcomes of such applications. Here we report cross sectional results of ongoing horizon scanning of translational genomic research conducted between May 16, 2012 and May 15, 2013. Based on a weekly, systematic query of PubMed, we created a curated set of 505 beyond bench-to-bedside research publications, including 312 original research articles, 123 systematic and other reviews, 38 clinical guidelines, policies and recommendations, and 32 papers describing tools, decision support and educational materials. Most papers (62%) addressed a specific genomic test or other health application; almost half of these (n=180) were related to cancer. We estimate that these publications account for 0.5% of reported human genomics and genetics research during the same time. These data provide baseline information to track the evolving knowledge base and gaps in genomic medicine. Continuous horizon scanning is crucial for an evidence-based translation of genomic discoveries into improved health care and disease prevention.
genomic medicine; public health; surveillance; translational research
The long-standing medical tradition to “first do no harm” is reflected in population-wide evidence-based recommendations for cancer screening tests that focus primarily on reducing morbidity and mortality. The conventional cancer screening process is predicated on finding early-stage disease that can be treated effectively; yet emerging genetic and genomic testing technologies have moved the target earlier in the disease development process to identify a probabilistic predisposition to disease. Genetic risk information can have varying implications for the health and well-being of patients and their relatives, and has raised important questions about the evaluation and value of risk information. This paper explores the paradigms that are being applied to the evaluation of conventional cancer screening tests and emerging genetic and genomic tests of cancer susceptibility, and how these perspectives are shifting and evolving in response to advances in our ability to detect cancer risks. We consider several challenges germane to the evaluation of both categories of tests including defining benefits and harms in terms of personal and clinical utility, addressing healthcare consumers’ information preferences, and managing scientific uncertainty. We encourage research and dialogue aimed at developing a better understanding of the value of all risk information, non-genetic and genetic, to people’s lives.
Cancer screening; genetic testing; BRCA1/2; mammography; risk information
Insufficient evidence on the net benefits and harms of genomic tests in real-world settings is a translational barrier for genomic medicine.
Understanding stakeholders’ assessment of the current evidence base for clinical practice and coverage decisions should be a critical step to influence research, policy, and practice.
Twenty-two stakeholders participated in a workshop exploring the evidence of genomic tests for clinical and coverage decision-making. Stakeholders completed a survey prior to and during the meeting. They also discussed if they would recommend for or against current clinical use of each test.
At baseline, the level of confidence on the clinical validity and clinical utility of each test varied, although the group expressed greater confidence for EGFR mutation and Lynch Syndrome (LS) testing than for Oncotype DX. Following the discussion, survey results reflected even less confidence for Oncotype DX and EGFR testing, but not LS. The majority of stakeholders would consider clinical use for all three tests, but under the conditions of additional research or a shared clinical decision-making approach.
Stakeholder engagement in unbiased settings is necessary to understand various perspectives about evidentiary thresholds in genomic medicine. Participants recommended the use of various methods for evidence generation and synthesis.
Candidate gene and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) represent two complementary approaches to uncovering genetic contributions to common diseases. We systematically reviewed the contributions of these approaches to our knowledge of genetic associations with cancer risk by analyzing the data in the Cancer Genome-wide Association and Meta Analyses database (Cancer GAMAdb). The database catalogs studies published since January 1, 2000, by study and cancer type. In all, we found that meta-analyses and pooled analyses of candidate genes reported 349 statistically significant associations and GWAS reported 269, for a total of 577 unique associations. Only 41 (7.1%) associations were reported in both candidate gene meta-analyses and GWAS, usually with similar effect sizes. When considering only noteworthy associations (defined as those with false-positive report probabilities ≤0.2) and accounting for indirect overlap, we found 202 associations, with 27 of those appearing in both meta-analyses and GWAS. Our findings suggest that meta-analyses of well-conducted candidate gene studies may continue to add to our understanding of the genetic associations in the post-GWAS era.
GWAS; candidate gene studies; meta-analysis; cancer
With the accelerated implementation of genomic medicine, health-care providers will depend heavily on professional guidelines and recommendations. Because genomics affects many diseases across the life span, no single professional group covers the entirety of this rapidly developing field.
To pursue a discussion of the minimal elements needed to develop evidence-based guidelines in genomics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute jointly held a workshop to engage representatives from 35 organizations with interest in genomics (13 of which make recommendations). The workshop explored methods used in evidence synthesis and guideline development and initiated a dialogue to compare these methods and to assess whether they are consistent with the Institute of Medicine report “Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust.”
The participating organizations that develop guidelines or recommendations all had policies to manage guideline development and group membership, and processes to address conflicts of interests. However, there was wide variation in the reliance on external reviews, regular updating of recommendations, and use of systematic reviews to assess the strength of scientific evidence.
Ongoing efforts are required to establish criteria for guideline development in genomic medicine as proposed by the Institute of Medicine.
evidence synthesis; genomic medicine; guideline development
Despite the quickening momentum of genomic discovery, the communication, behavioral, and social sciences research needed for translating this discovery into public health applications has lagged behind. The National Human Genome Research Institute held a 2-day workshop in October 2008 convening an interdisciplinary group of scientists to recommend forward-looking priorities for translational research. This research agenda would be designed to redress the top three risk factors (tobacco use, poor diet, and physical inactivity) that contribute to the four major chronic diseases (heart disease, type 2 diabetes, lung disease, and many cancers) and account for half of all deaths worldwide. Three priority research areas were identified: (1) improving the public’s genetic literacy in order to enhance consumer skills; (2) gauging whether genomic information improves risk communication and adoption of healthier behaviors more than current approaches; and (3) exploring whether genomic discovery in concert with emerging technologies can elucidate new behavioral intervention targets. Important crosscutting themes also were identified, including the need to: (1) anticipate directions of genomic discovery; (2) take an agnostic scientific perspective in framing research questions asking whether genomic discovery adds value to other health promotion efforts; and (3) consider multiple levels of influence and systems that contribute to important public health problems. The priorities and themes offer a framework for a variety of stakeholders, including those who develop priorities for research funding, interdisciplinary teams engaged in genomics research, and policymakers grappling with how to use the products born of genomics research to address public health challenges.
A major promise of genomic research is information that can transform health care and public health through earlier diagnosis, more effective prevention and treatment of disease, and avoidance of drug side effects. Although there is interest in the early adoption of emerging genomic applications in cancer prevention and treatment, there are substantial evidence gaps that are further compounded by the difficulties of designing adequately powered studies to generate this evidence, thus limiting the uptake of these tools into clinical practice. Comparative effectiveness research (CER) is intended to generate evidence on the “real-world” effectiveness compared with existing standards of care so informed decisions can be made to improve health care. Capitalizing on funding opportunities from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the National Cancer Institute funded seven research teams to conduct CER in genomic and precision medicine and sponsored a workshop on CER on May 30, 2012, in Bethesda, Maryland. This report highlights research findings from those research teams, challenges to conducting CER, the barriers to implementation in clinical practice, and research priorities and opportunities in CER in genomic and precision medicine. Workshop participants strongly emphasized the need for conducting CER for promising molecularly targeted therapies, developing and supporting an integrated clinical network for open-access resources, supporting bioinformatics and computer science research, providing training and education programs in CER, and conducting research in economic and decision modeling.
The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics recently issued recommendations for reporting incidental findings from clinical whole-genome sequencing and whole-exome sequencing. The recommendations call for evaluating a specific set of genes as part of all whole-genome sequencing/whole-exome sequencing and reporting all pathogenic variants irrespective of patient age. The genes are associated with highly penetrant disorders for which treatment or prevention is available. The effort to generate a list of genes with actionable findings is commendable, but the recommendations raise several concerns. They constitute a call for opportunistic screening, through intentional effort to identify pathogenic variants in specified genes unrelated to the clinical concern that prompted testing. Yet for most of the genes, we lack evidence about the predictive value of testing, genotype penetrance, spectrum of phenotypes, and efficacy of interventions in unselected populations. Furthermore, the recommendations do not allow patients to decline the additional findings, a position inconsistent with established norms. Finally, the recommendation to return adult-onset disease findings when children are tested is inconsistent with current professional consensus, including other policy statements of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Instead of premature practice recommendations, we call for robust dialogue among stakeholders to define a pathway to normatively sound, evidence-based guidelines.
In 2012, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) engaged the scientific community to provide a vision for cancer epidemiology in the 21st century. Eight overarching thematic recommendations, with proposed corresponding actions for consideration by funding agencies, professional societies, and the research community emerged from the collective intellectual discourse. The themes are (i) extending the reach of epidemiology beyond discovery and etiologic research to include multilevel analysis, intervention evaluation, implementation, and outcomes research; (ii) transforming the practice of epidemiology by moving towards more access and sharing of protocols, data, metadata, and specimens to foster collaboration, to ensure reproducibility and replication, and accelerate translation; (iii) expanding cohort studies to collect exposure, clinical and other information across the life course and examining multiple health-related endpoints; (iv) developing and validating reliable methods and technologies to quantify exposures and outcomes on a massive scale, and to assess concomitantly the role of multiple factors in complex diseases; (v) integrating “big data” science into the practice of epidemiology; (vi) expanding knowledge integration to drive research, policy and practice; (vii) transforming training of 21st century epidemiologists to address interdisciplinary and translational research; and (viii) optimizing the use of resources and infrastructure for epidemiologic studies. These recommendations can transform cancer epidemiology and the field of epidemiology in general, by enhancing transparency, interdisciplinary collaboration, and strategic applications of new technologies. They should lay a strong scientific foundation for accelerated translation of scientific discoveries into individual and population health benefits.
big data; clinical trials; cohort studies; epidemiology; genomics; medicine; public health; technologies; training; translational research