The Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN), Huntsville-based HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and HudsonAlpha Health Alliance have begun a collaboration to bring to the tribe health and education programs with a focus on genetics and genomics.
The integration of genomic information in precision medicine is rapidly advancing health care, since an person’s genome carries important information about disease risks, appropriate medications and potential responses to therapy. By building programs that integrate genomics into the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health (MCNDH), its citizens and patients will gain access to these advance,said Devin Absher, director of Genomic Health at HudsonAlpha.
In keeping with the tribal leadership’s commitment to improving access to quality and advanced education programs, the collaboration will provide MCN students and educators 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.
The MCN genomic health program, through a collaboration with the Health Alliance, will involve the implementation of comprehensive clinical genetic testing to people receiving care at MCNDH. This will include clinical decision support for physicians, 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.
“This exciting program creates a critical bridge between the Muscogee Nation and the advanced genomic science and education programs at the HudsonAlpha Institute,” Absher said. “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.”
MCN is the fourth-largest federally recognized tribe in the United States, headquartered in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. MCN has more than 89,000 citizens.
“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 health care delivery for our citizens,” said Shawn Terry, MCN secretary of health. “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.”