The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), located within the federal Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) is seeking public comments, data or other information to assess the current research, policy and practice environment in public health genomics. The information is solicited to assist the Office of Public Health Genomics (“OPHG”) of the CDC with its strategic plan to integrate genomics into public health research, policy, and programs with the goal of improving the health and well being of the public.  Electronic or written comments must be received on or before August 1, 2011.

CDC describes its mission as collaborating to create the expertise, information, and tools that people and communities need to protect their health – through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats. The CDC is requesting public input to the following questions on public health genomics:

  • What are the most important activities that should be carried out by the public health system in 2012-2017 to apply genomics knowledge to public health goals?
  • What outcomes specific to public health might be achieved as the result of carrying out these activities?
  • What policies are needed in order to achieve these outcomes?
  • What institutions, organizations and agencies need to participate in achieving these outcomes and what roles should they play?
  • What barriers are anticipated in achieving these outcomes and how might they best be overcome?

The CDC’s request for comments appears to be another step toward integrating personalized medicine into long term public health policy.  In 2010, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the “Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act of 2010” (“H.R. 5440”) to establish an Office of Personalized Healthcare within the Office of the HHS.  The legislation would have empowered the Secretary of the HHS to coordinate the HHS activities, as they relate to genomics and personalized medicine, with other relevant federal agencies as well as private and public entities and agencies.   The bill’s sponsors envisioned that this office would oversee selected initiatives to realize the overall goals of the legislation, such as the development of a long-term strategic plan to advance personalized medicine.  While H.R. 5440 did not pass in last year’s session, the CDC’s requests for comments appears consistent with realizing the goals of the bill.

Comments may be submitted by mail or electronically.  All relevant comments will be posted publicly without change, including any personal or proprietary information.  For more information, see “Assessing the Current Research, Policy, and Practice Environment in Public Health Genomics”, 76 Fed. Reg. 38399 (June 30, 2011).

The editor thanks partner Judith A. Waltz for her contribution to this post.