Genomics has been touted as a major step toward personalized medicine as an understanding of the effects of genetic factors may enable physicians to provide patients with the best medicines for them, without needing to adjust and change medications.
Kaiser Permanente's RPGEH teamed with the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of California-San Francisco for the study. The National Institutes of Health provided $24.8 million in grant funding.
RPGEH was set up to facilitate epidemiologic studies of genetic and environmental influences on common health conditions, such as asthma cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health disorders.
Researchers hope to build the data base to 500,000 participants. Risch said Kaiser has invested millions of dollars to generate and store the information, and to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of participants' personal information.
Risch explained that information collected from participants, including saliva samples, self-reported health surveys, and clinical data will be combined in environmental databases that will allow researchers to study the health effects of environmental factors such as air pollution and water quality as well as neighborhood characteristics, such as proximity to parks, grocery stores, and healthy foods.