AUG 21, 2014 11:15 AM PDT

Keynote: Integration of Genetics and Genomics into Medical Practice: Educational Challenges

  • Professor and Chair, Department of Genetics, Director, Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences, UAB
      Dr. Korf is the Chief Genomics Officer, UAB Medicine, Wayne H. and Sara Crews Finley Endowed Chair in Medical Genetics, Professor of Genetics, Co-Director of the UAB-HudsonAlpha Center for Genomic Medicine, Associate Director for Rare Diseases, Hugh Kaul Personalized Medicine Institute and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
      He is a medical geneticist, pediatrician, and child neurologist, certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (clinical genetics, clinical cytogenetics, and clinical molecular genetics), American Board of Pediatrics, and American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (child neurology). Dr. Korf is past president of the Association of Professors of Human and Medical Genetics, past president of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, and current president of the ACMG Foundation for Genetic and Genomic Medicine. He has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute at the NIH. His major research interests are molecular diagnosis of genetic disorders and the natural history, genetics, and treatment of neurofibromatosis. He serves as principal investigator of the Department of Defense funded Neurofibromatosis Clinical Trials Consortium, the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative, and the Southern All of Us Network. He is co-author of Human Genetics and Genomics (medical student textbook, now in fourth edition), Medical Genetics at a Glance (medical student textbook (now in third edition), Emery and Rimoin's Principles and Practice of Medical Genetics (now in 6th edition), and Current Protocols in Human Genetics.


    Medical applications of genetics and genomics have been advancing dramatically since completion of the sequencing of the human genome. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted, leading to the rapid introduction of sequencing-based testing into the clinic. Genomics has already changed our approach to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease; the day is not far off when most medical decisions will be to some extent informed by the outcome of a genetic or genomic test. Most practicing physicians were trained well prior to the genomic era, and even those who remember what they were taught about genetics will find that the field has changed beyond recognition. Although some of the genomics applications will be mediated through point-of-care decision support systems, there is a need for physicians to gain competency in multiple areas of genetic and genomic medicine. This includes use and interpretation of genetic and genomic predictive and diagnostic tests, using pharmacogenetic information to adjust drug administration, and customizing treatment to specific subtypes of disease defined by genetic testing. Physicians will also need to be able to incorporate the results of genome sequencing, including responding to incidental findings of genetic changes that indicate risk of disease. These educational challenges will need to be met for physicians in training and in practice, and will require the use of multiple educational modalities, including use of approaches such as online courses and case studies. Genetics and genomics may also be built into the maintenance of certification requirements in many specialty areas. A framework for development of physician competencies in genomic medicine has been formulated, which may facilitate the process of educating non-genetics physicians about genetics and genomics. There is a great need for innovative approaches to genetics and genomics education that will prepare physicians and other health providers.

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