242585 Lost in genetic translation: A decade of declining state public health genetics leadership

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 12:50 PM

Sylvia Mann Au, MS , Genetics Program, Hawaii Department of Health, Honolulu, HI
Arthur Yu, MS , Genetics Program, Hawaii Department of Health, Honolulu, HI
The past decade has brought us many advances in genetics and biotechnology. However, the field of public health genetics (PHG) is struggling to keep up with the growing need to educate families and healthcare professionals on applying these discoveries for advancing public health. Our study collected information using a nationwide survey of state genetics coordinators (SGCs) to look at state level PHG activities. We hope that the results will help shape state and federal agency decisions regarding funding, policy, and training. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands were invited to participate. As of December 2010, 87% of the SGCs had completed the survey. The data shows, in comparison to 2000, the number of SGCs working full time (≥ 35hrs/wk) has decreased from 53% to 30%. In addition, 51% of SGCs now report spending less than 10 hours per week on genetics activities and 28% of states report having no PHG programs. Even in states with PHG programs, 10% report that the SGC does not have any formal genetics training. The results suggest that despite the advances in genetics, the level of PHG activities are hindered by inadequate state public health infrastructures. This includes a lack of strong and consistent leadership at the SGC level; a lack of funding; and a lack of resources to ensure the appropriate education/training of PHG staff. We will conclude by giving strategies to prevent a “translational bottleneck” preventing successful integration of genetic discoveries into public health.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the current status of state level public health genetics activities. 2) Identify challenges to implementing state level public health genetic activities. 3) Discuss solutions to improve state level public health genetics programs.

Keywords: Genetics, Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a state genetics coordinator with formal training in genetics and I conducted the initial survey in 1999.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.