National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG) 2006 program review book
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National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG) 2006 program review book

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  • Alternative Title:
    2006 program review book
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    Public health genomics is a multidisciplinary field that uses the effective and responsible translation of genome-based knowledge and technologies to improve population health. Public health genomics uses population-based data on genetic variation and gene- environment interactions to develop evidence-based tools for improving health and preventing disease. Since 1998, the Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention has been at the leading edge of this development in the United States and internationally. In 2006, CDC changed the name of the office to the “National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG)” to better reflect the focus on public health. NOPHG provides national public health leadership while building partnerships with other federal agencies, public health organizations, professional groups, and the private sector.

    Genomics has the potential to provide insights into why some people get sick from certain infectious agents, environmental exposures, and behaviors, while others do not. Better understanding of the gene-environment interactions that contribute to health and disease will help to identify more effective ways to prevent and treat diseases.

    Most human diseases—especially common diseases, like cancer and diabetes—result from interactions of genetic factors with modifiable environmental and behavioral factors. Very few diseases can be attributed to single genes. Calling a disease genetic implies that no environmental or behavioral interventions exist, and that biology is destiny. Conversely, calling a disease environmental ignores the influence of genetic variation on disease susceptibility, progression, and response to treatment.

    Both nature and nurture are important. The way genes interact with each other and with environmental factors to cause disease, however, is largely unknown. Clinical and epidemiologic studies are needed to identify and better characterize genetic and environmental factors and their interactions. This new knowledge will lead to more effective ways to prevent disease and improve health.

    Although public health has used genomics in newborn screening programs since the 1960’s, future genomic applications will require broader program models. While the accelerating rate of genomic discoveries is exciting, immense gaps currently exist in the knowledge needed for successful translation of these discoveries into population health benefits. This translation gap calls for public health leadership in shaping the agenda for applied research, policy development, and practice.

    Anticipating the potential of genomic research for improving population health, CDC developed a strategic plan and formed the Office of Genetics and Disease Prevention in 1997. The office was renamed the Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention (OGDP) in 2003, and this year, as mentioned, the name was changed to the National Office of Public Health Genomics (NOPHG).

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