Groundbreaking population health study will open to 40,000 more volunteers

January 9, 2018

Fifteen months after launching the state’s landmark Healthy Nevada Project, Renown Institute for Health Innovation (Renown IHI) is taking steps toward significantly expanding public enrollment in its community-based population health study. Today, executives and research team members announce they have partnered with personal genomics company, Helix for the next phase of the study expected to open enrollment this spring.

Utilizing Helix’s proprietary Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology and uniquely personalized suite of DNA-powered products, research teams at Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) plan to offer an additional 40,000 Nevadans the opportunity to have their DNA sequenced and participate in phase two of the study. The Healthy Nevada Project will offer study participants a DNA kit from Helix that provides information on personal traits or ancestry, and a Helix.com account which will enable them to explore additional DNA-powered products through the Helix App store if they choose.

In September 2016, the pilot phase of the study enrolled 10,000 participants in less than 48 hours and completed DNA sample collection in just 60 working days. Participants ranged from 18-90 years old from 135 zip codes in northern Nevada. Socioeconomic survey information was also collected using an advanced, confidential online survey tool. Research teams are currently working on the first peer-reviewed scientific results from the study after gaining valuable community and population health insights from the data.

“From the beginning, our focus with the Healthy Nevada Project has been on delivering personalized health data to our communities that will ultimately drive positive change for our state,” said Anthony Slonim, M.D., DrPH, president and CEO of Renown Health, and president of Renown IHI. “We are very excited about the opportunities the next phase of this groundbreaking study will offer. Community participants will be able to gain deeper, actionable insights into their DNA data, while our research teams gain unprecedented access to the largest clinical DNA sequencing facility in the world.”

Northern Nevada’s healthcare catchment spans 100,000 square miles and serves almost 1 million people. The diverse population, generational healthcare data and innovative combination of leading-edge research tools and detailed environmental databases make the region an ideal location for advanced health science.

“Our pilot phase used genotyping, which was a great start, but moving to NGS sequencing and inviting an additional 40,000 people to participate will dramatically accelerate what we can learn about the human genome and has the potential to greatly improve preventative health,” said Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., an associate research professor at DRI, co-director of Renown IHI, and principal investigator of the Healthy Nevada Project.

“Our mission is to empower every person to improve their life through DNA. We invested heavily in our Exome+ assay, partner infrastructure, and CLIA- and CAP-accredited laboratory – which is now the largest clinical exome sequencing facility in the world – with the vision of empowering individuals with access to data about themselves and the DNA-powered products that enable them to take a more active role in their health,” said Robin Thurston, CEO of Helix. “Helix is proud to support this important project which will empower people to make better health choices and will contribute to novel genomics discoveries.”

Community members are encouraged to stay tuned to HealthyNV.org as Renown IHI finalizes the details of phase two enrollment of the Healthy Nevada Project. Enrollment is expected to open this spring.