Langara College: Is the secret to better health hiding in your DNA?
Imagine medical treatment based on your own genes. It may sound futuristic, but it’s already here. Precision or personalized medicine uses our growing knowledge of the human genome to customize health care according to an individual’s genetic make-up.
In January, the Government of Canada and partners announced they would invest $255 million in genomics research and the National Health Service in England recently announced that they expect to complete their 100,000 Genomes Project by the end of the year. Starting in 2019, a new certificate program at Langara College in Vancouver, BC will train Canada’s health care professionals in this exciting field.
“Personalized medicine is an approach that recognizes each patient has a unique set of factors that could impact every stage of their diagnosis and treatment,” says Dave Anderson, an instructor in the program.
A post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, Anderson first become interested in personalized medicine while earning his PhD at the University of Oregon when he realized that his academic research in biochemistry and biology could be applied to health care.
“Determining which people may be particularly vulnerable to diseases like cancer will allow us to better treat patients within our existing system,” says Anderson. He believes front-line health care personnel gaining knowledge in this area will lead to better outcomes for patients.
Langara Continuing Studies' Health and Human Services Program Manager Dr. Linda Turner shares his passion for personalized medicine. A registered nurse herself, Turner says that health practitioners of all backgrounds –including nurses, naturopaths, and pharmacists – can benefit from adding this expertise to their practice.
“Personalized medicine could mean a total transformation of health care,” says Turner. “We’re training and preparing these students for the future of medicine.”