With DNA sequencing project, YNHHS advances next generation of treatment, prevention

What if you could help find new treatments for kidney and liver diseases, multiple sclerosis, certain cancers, heart disease and other disorders? You can. There is information in each of us – specifically in our DNA – that can help researchers find ways to predict, treat and even prevent hundreds of genetic conditions.

To collect and analyze the large amounts of DNA needed for that research, Yale New Haven Health and Yale School of Medicine on Sept. 4 officially launched the Generations project, one of the largest DNA sequencing efforts of its kind in the United States. With support from the Yale Center for Clinical Investigation, Generations aims to enroll more than 100,000 volunteer participants in Connecticut and the region.

Participants will provide a blood sample, from which their DNA will be collected, sequenced and submitted to an electronic “biobank.” Researchers with the Yale Center for Genomic Health will not know participants’ names, but will be able to analyze information in the biobank.

“With a large pool of data, researchers can look for genetic mutations and patterns in DNA that may be related to certain health concerns,” said Michael Murray, MD, director of clinical operations, Yale Center for Genomic Health. “Our goal is to learn more about human health and disease so we can find better ways to treat illnesses and, ultimately, prevent certain conditions.” While researchers will not know participants’ identities, Generations project leaders will be able to share relevant genetic information with participants and their healthcare providers.

“This information has the potential to help a small percentage of participants with a previously unrecognized risk for conditions such as cancer or heart disease take steps to reduce their risk and prevent disease,” Dr. Murray said. “In addition to this immediate benefit for participants, the project will support long-term research that will benefit future generations.”

“This project shows how an academically connected health system can apply research discoveries to patient care, and improve the health of people in our communities, our region and beyond,” said YNHHS President Richard D’Aquila.

Anyone interested in participating in Generations can email helpusdiscover@yale.edu or call 1-877-978-8343.