The pilot phase of the Healthy Nevada Project launched about two years ago. It initially enrolled 10,000 participants in just 48 hours. Now in phase two, the project has greatly expanded to 40,000 more northern Nevadans. It also is returning clinical results to participants. Principal investigator of the study Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., talks about the project’s development.
The Healthy Nevada Project — led by Renown and DRI — is a first-of-its-kind population health study combining genetic, clinical, social and environmental data.
Dr. Joseph Grzymski, the study’s principal investigator, recently spoke with News 4 Reno about insights into where the project has been and where it’s going in the future.
How has the study evolved in the last two years?
When we launched in September 2016, we were really trying to figure out whether there was an appetite in our community for individuals to take charge of their own health and health and wellness education. The answer as you remember was overwhelmingly positive – 10,000 people signed up in 48 hours. After that incredible success, we felt like we needed to do more with the study and a key component of phase two is returning clinical results to people. As we announced in early October, we’re now focusing on returning results on prevalent conditions in our population where there are clear clinical guidelines for treatment and care.
Where are we at now with notifying people of these conditions?
In the last couple months, we started returning results to individuals. This is done through our medical research team. Right now, we have approximately 35,000 people in the study. We started returning results a few weeks ago on familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, which is a lipid disorder and just recently we started returning results on hereditary breast, ovarian cancer and also Lynch syndrome – which are cancer syndromes.
So, you wouldn’t be contacted unless you’re in one of these groups that has those markers?
We are also communicating back to individuals who have negative results by email to say “we’ve screened you, and for those three conditions you don’t have any of the pathogenic markers but here’s what you need to know about your risks for cancer and heart disease” anyway.
What’s next for the study?
Ultimately, our goal is to make it truly the Healthy Nevada Project and roll the project out to the entire state. We’re working on that. We’d like to incorporate close to 250,000 northern Nevadans and in the near future, the next 6-9 months, we will be screening for more of these hereditary risks for those who have already participated. It’s not just a one and done where you give your saliva and you get one result – we will continue to update and provide more information.
How can people sign up to take part?
Anyone over age 18 can go to our website HealthyNV.org and sign up if they live in northern Nevada. If you’re interested in learning your risk for these genetic conditions, you can opt in to receive these results.