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Clinic for genomic medicine opens

Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine is open at 701 McMillian Way. CONTRIBUTED
Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine is open at 701 McMillian Way. CONTRIBUTED

HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville and North Alabama now have a center believed to be the world’s first designed solely for diagnoses to patients with undiagnosed disease by using sequencing data of whole genomes.

Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine officially opened at 701 McMillian Way in Cummings Research Park on Nov. 20.

In the United States, 30 million people live with rare and undiagnosed diseases, Dr. Howard Jacob said. Jacob is executive vice president for genomic medicine at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the clinic’s chief medical genomics officer.

“Many have been on diagnostic odysseys for an average of seven years, often without a diagnosis. We now have the tools and the team to markedly improve the rate of diagnosis — which is the first step in providing a treatment,” Jacob said.

The clinic has 4,500-plus square feet and 25 rooms in a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) structure. Staff members perform genomic sequencing and interpretation in HudsonAlpha Clinical Services Laboratory.

The clinic’s name honors Mark C. Smith, co-founder of Adtran and active philanthropist. Smith was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2000 and became actively involved with HudsonAlpha as a founding board member. His wife Linda Smith serves on HudsonAlpha board of directors.

Dr. David Bick is leading the clinic as medical director. “We will exclusively sequence the whole genome, rather than just part of the genome,” Bick said. “Sequencing the whole genome gives us a much larger data set.”

Collaboration for Smith Family Clinic includes HudsonAlpha, Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine. UAB’s Undiagnosed Diseases Program also uses DNA sequencing for diagnosis at UAB’S Kaul Genetics Building and a new clinic at Children’s of Alabama.

UAB School of Medicine has more than 800 students and 1,200 faculty members as one of the premier academic medical centers in the United States. UAB is among the top schools in research funding from the National Institutes of Health and routinely earns national rankings.

For more information, visit smithfamilyclinic.org.

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