Sanford Imagenetics researcher presents at WHO conference

Organization known globally for its use of genetics in primary care.

By: Mikaila Johns .

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Sanford Health made a global impression in October at an international conference in Turkey attended by a diverse group of scientists and policy makers who were interested in chronic diseases.

Murat Sincan, M.D., director of computational medical informatics for Sanford Imagenetics, spoke at the 5th Turkish Medical World Congress Conference, attended by researchers from more than 70 countries.

As director, Dr. Sincan focuses on both genetic and non-genetic components that influence a patient’s health. This involves taking relevant clinical information from an electronic medical record (EMR) in collaboration with Sanford Health’s Enterprise Data Analytics (EDA) team. His current project involves the development and use of natural language processing, which pulls clinical concepts from information living in an EMR.

Dr. Sincan also conducts research by working with external partners, such as LA BioMed and North Dakota State University. They look at theories and different aspects of precision medicine with which Sanford Health is engaged.

Turkish conference

The conference was hosted by the World Health Organization Prevention Control and Management of Non-communicable Diseases and organized by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe. Dr. Sincan spoke about innovative approaches for genetic testing of healthy individuals for preventing non-communicable diseases, that are in place at Sanford Health.

“Sanford Imagenetics is a unique program that determines each patient’s genetic risk factors for diseases and the most effective medications for them, and integrates this information directly into their primary care. Our experience here at Sanford Imagenetics was received as a precision medicine success story by the attendees of this international meeting” Sincan said.

Dr. Sincan also participated in a workshop that focused on how the DNA sequence of people related to specific genetic variations is tapped for information in research.

While at the conference, he presented a project on a method Sanford Imagenetics is using to help patients become aware of their risk for future diseases. The project screens a healthy individual’s genes to predict their predisposition to a disease.

The test also runs pharmacogenomics to understand how certain medications affect the body. When testing is complete, results are sent to the patient’s EMR then reviewed and used as a discussion topic with the patient’s physician. The doctor then works with the patient to build a care plan that may include more frequent screening or lifestyle changes.

Taking genetics to a global stage

Sanford Health’s approach of integrating genetics into every day clinical practice is showing a new model for health care providers around the world. The organization is leading in its approach to genetic screening in primary care clinics and how it has those results come back to the provider in a useful way.

Dr. Sincan said the international community’s interest will continue to grow as Sanford Health shows that pre-emptive genetic screening has the potential to produce better health outcomes for patients and create cost savings for providers and payers.

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