June 2009--During an annual vacation to Maine in 1959, Victor and Anne McKusick stopped by the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. Together with John Fuller, then assistant director of JAX, they devised an intensive two-week course to introduce researchers and clinicians to modern ideas of heredity to integrate experimental medical genetics with medicine and clinical practice.
An immediate hit, the course has been taught every summer since and has involved more than 5,000 students, nearly 100 faculty from Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 100 JAX faculty and nearly 300 guest lecturers from other institutions around the world.
We now are gearing up for the 50th Annual Short Course on Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics to be held this summer at the JAX in Bar Harbor, with what I think is a fantastic program. What really excites me is not only how understanding the genetics behind human disease has transformed medicine over the past 50 years but how exciting the future looks. Individualized medicine is the new frontier: tailoring treatments and even prevention to each patient’s genetic makeup.
To lead the effort in realizing individualized medicine, the IGM is running a new continuing medical education course in Baltimore this fall for physicians (primary care and sub-specialists), nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, genetic counselors, and physicians in training. This 1-1/2 day course is designed to highlight the new discoveries in genetic medicine for use in clinical practice TODAY.
We aim to teach today’s healthcare providers how to interpret and use information and resources to answer patient questions about genetics and medicine; how to identify reputable online resources for current genetic testing and interpretation; how to understand the basis for pharmacogenetics in the primary care setting; learn to appreciate the genetic components of common adult and childhood disease; and recognize how information from the Human Genome Project can be used to individualize care for patients.
As always, I welcome your feedback.
David Valle, M.D.
Henry J. Knott Professor and Director
McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine