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Pharmacogenomics at Northwestern University

Maureen Smith discusses pharmacogenomics projects currently underway at Northwestern University, where the goals are to determine how best to return genetic results to patients, and how to appropriate education resources to patients and health professionals.
Participating in Pharmacogenetic Research at Northwestern University

Dr. Rex Chisholm describes what is involved in participating in participating in pharmacogenetic research at Northwestern University. Participants will first complete a survey that will look at what they know about genomics and DNA. They will then contribute DNA to be tested to see if there is a relationship between your genes and your medications. Results will be shared with a doctor, who will discuss those results with you. Finally, the research team will follow-up with a survey to see if you benefited from the project.
Pharmacogenomic Projects in Northwestern, What's Involved?

Maureen Smith discusses the pharmacogenomic projects underway at Northwestern University and explains that participants in the research will be interviewed by a genetic counselor to assess how their eligibility. They will then be asked to complete a survey that includes knowledge of genetics and family history prior to receiving test results. They will complete the same survey immediately after receiving results, and again several months later.
The Northwestern Pharmacogenomics Study, Procedures and Results

Participants in the Northwestern University pharmacogenomics study will have a blood sample drawn, which is then sent for testing for 3 genetic variants. Test results will be returned within six months. Genetic counseling is offered to all participants, at no charge.
Enrolling in Pharmacogenetics Projects at Northwestern University

Dr. Rex Chisholm explains that individuals who want to participate in pharmacogenetic research at Northwestern University will sit down with project researchers. The researchers will explain the study, the minimal risks involved in participating, and ask for permission to extract a sample of blood. They will also ask for permission to look into your electronic health records, and to return results to you.
Pharmacogenetics Projects at Northwestern University - History and Goals

Dr. Rex Chisholm explains that pharmacogenetics research began at Northwestern University in 2002, at the time that the human genome project was being completed. The research is based on the idea that our genetic make-up can help predict how we respond to medication. Using genetic testing, the goal is to find personalize treatment for each patient.
Why Do Pharmacogenomic Testing?

Maureen Smith explains that the goal of the pharmacogenomics projects at Northwestern University is to help patients by using genetic information about patients to guide them towards better treatment. The FDA recommends genetic testing for many drugs, and Northwestern aims to help patients and health professionals better implement and understand these tests.
What is Genetic Counseling?

Maureen Smith explains that patients who receive results of genetic tests are often offered genetic counseling, Genetic counseling looks at your family history, and aims to help patients understand their risk of developing certain disorders, genetic tests, and test results. Counseling may be provided by a doctor, or a genetic counselor who will have specialized knowledge of genetics and healthcare.
What a Genetic Counselor Can Tell You

Dr. Rex Chisholm explains that a genetic counselor is a trained professional with expertise in understanding genetics and in conveying that information to patients. By discussing genetic results with a genetic counselor, patients should gain a better understanding of the results they receive and the options available to them in terms of healthcare.
Pharmacogenetics: Does Everyone Respond to a Drug in the Same Way?

Dr. Rex Chisholm (Northwestern University) confirms that not everyone responds in the same way to a medication. Pharmacogenetics researchers are studying whether genetic variations can predict which individuals will respond best to a particular drug.
Can Health Insurance Companies Use Genetic Test Results Against Me?

Maureen Smith explains that health insurance companies are prevented by law from discriminating against you base on your genetic test results. However, the same law does not apply to long-term disability insurance or to life insurance. As such, she recommends that before undergoing genetic testing, an individuals should think about the life and long-term disability insurance they have in place.
What Should I Do If I Have Concerns About Genetic Test Results?

If you are concerned about genetic test results you have received, Maureen Smith recommends that you discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor should be able to explain results to you, and may recommend you to a genetic counselor, a trained professional that is trained in genetics and in communicating genetic test results. He or she may also recommend you to another doctor that can further help you understand your results.
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