The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is breaking into an emerging medical discipline that integrates genomic information in precision medicine. Essentially, a genome, or a complete set of DNA, is mapped to help understand disease risks, potential responses to therapy, and appropriate medications.
The Tribe has entered into a collaboration with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and HudsonAlpha Health Alliance to bring these health and education programs with a focus on genetics and genomics to the Tribe.
By building programs that integrate genomics into the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health (MCNDH), the Tribe, which counts 89,000 citizens, and all patients will gain access to these medical advances.
Shawn Terry, Secretary of Health for the Muscogee Creek Nation, commented: “The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health takes pride in its history of innovation, from being the first tribe in the country to own and operate community hospitals to collaborating with an internationally recognized research institution to improve healthcare delivery for our citizens. This partnership with HudsonAlpha provides a real-world solution to address the significant health disparities our citizens face and will enable us to improve health outcomes for generations to come.”
Advancing education programs is pivotal to the initiative. MCN students and educators will have access to the latest in genomic science educational tools and classroom support, as well as opportunities to explore careers in biotechnology and genomic medicine through a variety of workforce programs.
Clinical genetic testing through the Health Alliance will also help to inform clinical decisions for MCNDH physicians, while providing access to the Health Alliance’s Genome Gateway portal for electronic delivery of genetic test results, and test-specific education for patients and physicians. The program will be managed with strict adherence to the Tribe’s privacy standards, quality protocols and supervision for the purpose of improving health outcomes for MCN citizens.
“This exciting program creates a critical bridge between the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the advanced genomic science and education programs at the HudsonAlpha Institute. We think this program will serve as a new collaborative model that will give MCN a leadership position in Native American health initiatives, empowering their citizens to participate in the biotechnology revolution, while maintaining tribal autonomy,” said Devin Absher, PhD, Director of Genomic Health at HudsonAlpha.