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Snapshot: Genomic Health (GHDX)

Genomic Health
Name: Kim Popovits
Title: President and CEO
Company: Genomic Health
Location: 301 Penobscot Drive, Redwood City, CA 94063
Genomic Health
Social Media:; or @GenomicHealth;
Year Founded: 2000
Number of Employees: Approximately 595
Description: Genomic Health is committed to improving the quality of cancer treatment decisions through the research, development and commercialization of genomic-based clinical laboratory services. To that end, the company conducts sophisticated genomic research to develop clinically-validated molecular diagnostics which provide individualized information on response to certain types of therapy, as well as the likelihood of disease recurrence. These diagnostic technologies generate information that health care providers and patients can use in making treatment decisions
Products or Pipeline, Phase: Oncotype Dx Breast Cancer Assay (Invasive), Oncotype Dx Breast Cancer Assay (DCIS), Oncotype Dx Colon Cancer Assay. (Pipeline: Oncotype Dx Prostate Cancer Assay)

What is genomics?

There is often confusion between genetics and genomics. I think of genomics as an arm of biotechnology that involves combining genetic technology with molecular biology, and importantly, a translation of the data to something meaningful for clinical practice based on the underlying biology of an individual’s disease. While we haven’t reached the full potential of the genomic technology available today, we are convinced we have never been better positioned to transform health care through genomics. We hope that there are more examples like Oncotype Dx in the future.

From an innovation standpoint, we can check the box of having the necessary tools to identify and measure the genome of an individual patient. We have also made progress in demonstrating that we can turn results into actionable decisions. What we haven’t yet done is build a network that combines all of these results into an accessible database that can be mined to transform our understanding of disease. Once we reach that point, we can begin to apply the knowledge gathered from individual patient genomes and clinical outcomes and thereby develop population-based knowledge, which can be utilized to positively impact outcomes on a broader scale.

Why is genomics important for diagnostics?

Diagnostics in the future will be largely involve the reporting of genomic information. In the medical community, there is broad acceptance and agreement that we need more precise information to better manage disease at the individual patient level. We have the tools to end the era of “one size fits all” medicine which today is the result of treating diseases we do not fully understand with therapeutics that are marginally effective.

What has been the most important advance in genomics in 2012?

The debate around whether we can get Next Generation Sequencing or Whole Genome Sequencing to the consumer level is over. We’ve reached a price point where it can and will reach all consumers. Cost is no longer a barrier to access and it can no longer be the excuse to not recognize the role that genomic information will play in transforming health care.

What are the hurdles?

The biggest hurdle today is the lack of a system in place that incentivizes and rewards delivering value in health care. From reimbursement to regulatory hurdles, we need to look towards systems that reward value and encourage innovation that will lead to better outcomes. A good question is who gets to define value? As a provider of genomic information, we believe value should be demonstrated through both quality and actionable results. While every stakeholder can speak from their own vantage point, making genomics and personalized medicine a success will require the combined resources of all stakeholders. Each has to be committed to changing the paradigm we have today; it will require all of us working together in a collective effort to define value and remove barriers to innovation in fully realizing the promise of precision medicine through genomics.

What could be changed to improve the success?

Collaboration of stakeholders needs to happen on every side of this equation (academia, industry, regulatory, FDA, patients, payors, CMS, etc.) – the silo approach must end. Developers of drugs and diagnostics, the agencies that regulate, the payors that reimburse and the patients who advocate and strive for better choices, must all come together to work on a better and more cohesive approach.

What is missing in genomics is an accessible public database of high quality genomic data. Collaboration among researchers and agencies needs to occur. The cost barrier no longer exists and the concerns of genetic discrimination have evolved and can be managed. We always have to be concerned about privacy and discrimination, but getting a genome sequenced will soon be considered a personal lab value. The bigger issue is turning this enormous amount of personal data into knowledge that can be used in managing one’s health.

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