Healthy Nevada Project kicks off second phase of precision medicine study

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will invite an additional 40,000 Nevadans on March 15 to enroll in the study and have their DNA sequenced for in-depth research.
By Bill Siwicki
02:29 PM
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Healthy Nevada Project precision medicine study

This week, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will announce the second enrollment phase of the Healthy Nevada Project precision medicine study, inviting an additional 40,000 Nevadans to enroll in the study and have their DNA sequenced. Study participants are given no-cost access to genetic testing.

Launched in 2016, the Healthy Nevada Project is combining genetic, clinical, environmental and socioeconomic data to better understand the complex interplay between these factors and related effects on population health. This pioneering study has the potential to help Nevada address some of its most complex population health problems – but investigators must first make sense of all the data.

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For that task, the Renowned Institute for Health Innovation, which is running the study, has chosen analytics vendor SAS. Researchers, doctors and data scientists from Renown IHI are using SAS to develop a health determinants platform that will surface population health risks from patient variables such as gender, age, and personal or family health history. The platform will also model public health risks ranging from disease and illness to the effects of environmental factors such as air quality.

Insights and understandings gained from analytics are helping Renown IHI analyze population health outcomes and their correlations to participant genetic information and varying environmental factors such as air and water quality.

"We are working 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," said Jim Metcalf, chief data scientist at the Healthy Nevada Project. "The modern statistical and machine learning methods, along with the intuitive data visualizations, have been critical elements of our success to date."

The pilot phase of the Healthy Nevada Project enrolled 10,000 participants in less than 48 hours and then completed subsequent DNA sample collection from each participant in just 60 working days.

"This study has real potential to change healthcare as we know it – not just in Nevada but around the world," said Mark Lambrecht, director of the health and life sciences global practice at SAS. "How does environmental variation contribute to outcomes? What role does one's genetics play? Together we can accelerate advances in precision medicine and the data-driven health innovations and research that lead to higher-quality care and better outcomes for all."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com