Skip to contents
In This Issue:
Senior Research Assistant Nicole Mayard, right, explains the benefits of this grounbreaking study to a potential participant.
As a cardiologist, Pat O’Gara, MD, knows firsthand the important role research plays in transforming medicine. That’s why he joined physicians across BWH in supporting OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity, a groundbreaking pilot project that will lay the foundation for a state-of-the-art blood sample and health information bank designed to pioneer the future of biomedical research.
“This is a very exciting project that we feel has the potential to give BWH researchers and clinicians the tools to broaden our understanding of human health and disease, including cardiovascular disease,” said O’Gara, executive medical director of the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, who, along with all physicians in the Cardiovascular Division, is helping to recruit study participants.
By combining thousands of BWH patients’ genetic and environmental data with medical records and family medical history, the study will help hospital researchers and clinicians design better health care for all patients, ultimately leading to personalized preventive medicine.
In July, researchers began collecting blood samples that are linked to the patient’s longitudinal medical record (LMR), family history and data on environmental, behavioral and lifestyle factors. The first clinical areas participating include Rheumatology, Cardiology, Neurology, the Jen Center for Primary Care, the Fish Center for Women’s Health and Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“The study has been well-received by patients,” said O’Gara, who attributes this early success to information mailed to patients in advance of their appointments at BWH.
Ultimately, the study aims to establish a collection of samples and data from 100,000 BWH patients. Investigators are developing ways to educate patients, physicians and the community on the power of genetics in medicine.
“OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity is a sweeping endeavor,” said Christine Seidman, MD, director of the BWH Division of Cardiovascular Genetics, who is leading the study with Elizabeth Karlson, MD, director of Rheumatic Disease Epidemiology Research. “We are creating the infrastructure that will drive BWH research and medicine for decades to come.”
While other research studies concentrate either on select populations or a specific collection of diseases, this project will examine the entire scope of human health and disease. Once the project is established, BWH researchers can access thousands of banked genotype samples linked with extensive longitudinal phenotype, health history, family history and environmental data.
“This initiative will ensure that BWH remains a premier educator of clinicians and biomedical researchers and continues to lead the world in scientific and medical innovations,” said Cynthia Morton, PhD, director of the Biomedical Research Institute, which is sponsoring the pilot phase of the project.
Participation is voluntary, and patients can become part of the project by donating a small amount of blood and answering a brief survey about family health history, environmental exposures and lifestyle.