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Renown, DRI conduct population health study

Special to the NNBW

Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) announced Thrusday, Sept. 15, a new collaboration with 23andMe, a leading personal genetics company, to launch one of the first community-based population health studies in the U.S.

The study will combine health, population and genetic information with environmental data and return 23andMe genetic results to study participants.

Funded by Renown Health Foundation and Nevada’s Knowledge Fund, this pilot study will offer community members the opportunity to volunteer for research while also gaining access to their individual genetic information at no cost.

“Through this study, we will begin to understand how environmental factors can help predict who may be at risk, allow for quicker diagnoses, and encourage the development of more precise treatments,” Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., AIC senior director and principal investigator of the study, said in written statement.

Researchers hope to build an infrastructure to apply the population health pilot to all Nevada residents — approximately 2.8 million people. In doing so, researchers could build predictive models and look for significant population health factors across demographic variables such as gender, age, income, location; and distinct population health strata that consider community health, individual health, and chronic disease variables, as well as their interactions.

“This collaboration addresses one of the fundamental tensions in medicine: Which is more important nature or nurture?” Anthony Slonim, M.D., DrPH, Renown Health president and CEO, explained. “Clearly, both are important and by combining Renown’s de-identified health data, such as 300,000 health histories that are five years or longer and patient population demographics, with other determinants, like social and environmental, we can begin to better understand the health and healthcare needs of the people and communities we serve.”

The study is open to the first 5,000 northern Nevada residents who qualify.

For more information and to make an appointment for the study, visit http://www.partners.renown.org or call 775-982-6914.

Update September 19, 2016, 9 a.m.: Due to an overwhelming response, open enrollement in the study has been closed, Renown Health and DRI announced on Saturday. The original 5,000 spots were filled within 24-hours of the announcement of the study on Thursday. An additional 5,000 spots were opened Friday and quickly filled again.

“Surpassing the enrollment goal in less than 24 hours is unheard of in research studies,” Anne Wojcicki, co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, said in a press release. “Treating people like partners in research and returning information back to participants is an incredible tool for driving participation and engagement.”

Interested members of the community can stay informed about availability by signing up on a waiting list at partners.renown.org.