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Q&A: Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium

Children’s Minnesota is a member of the newly formed Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium, a collaboration of six premier children’s hospitals banding together to expand access to genetic testing, integrate genomic medicine, advance research and educate the public about genetic diseases.

Dr. Gunter Scharer, medical director of the genomic medicine program, tells us more about genomic medicine and explains what parents need to know about the new consortium.

Q: What is genomic medicine?

A: Simply stated, genomic medicine is the use of genetics and genomic information to personalize and optimize a patient’s care for a variety of diseases.

Q: Why was the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium established?

A: There is a lot of technology available for use in pediatric genetics, but there is a lack of awareness about the diagnostic and treatment options available and a lot of insurance providers don’t cover genetic testing which is a barrier for many patients.

This consortium will not only work to educate the public and advance genetic research, but it will also improve access to genomic medicine. By banding together, each hospital will have a better chance of receiving grants and federal money for research than any one of us would have alone. Additionally, we’ll work together to educate parents and insurance providers about the benefits of pediatric genetics and what further research could mean for kids’ health.

Q: How will all of these hospitals work together? What impact might this work have on children?

A: We will collaborate and pool resources to conduct research, apply for grants and work on complex patient cases (to shorten the so called ‘Diagnostic Odyssey’). Through our combined research efforts, this consortium will promote discovery, work to improve access to this testing, and educate parents and providers about when it can and should be used.

This collaboration will also increase the resources available for patients. Each hospital has their own unique expertise and now providers will have access to these diverse clinical teams for case consultations to gain further knowledge and provide the best solutions for patients.

Q: What should parents know about this initiative?

A: Children’s Minnesota is committed to furthering research around and access to genomic medicine because of the incredible potential it has to positively impact the diagnosis and treatment of conditions in kids.

Genomic medicine is an option that’s currently available at Children’s Minnesota and you should consult your doctor on how it could be integrated in your child’s care plan.

To learn more about Children’s Minnesota’s work in pediatric genomics, visit the genomic medicine section on our website. For more information on the Sanford Genomics Consortium, see the full press release.

Gunter H. Scharer, MD, PhD
Gunter H. Scharer, MD, PhD