Saliva samples from 2,000 Air Force medical personnel soon will be collected and cryogenically frozen in tanks at the Coriell Institute in Camden.
DNA from volunteer doctors, nurses and administrators will be analyzed to determine their genetic predisposition for conditions such as heart disease and cancer, and, to tell if certain common medications will not work on them.
Coriell president Michael Christman said the study seeks to answer a simple question.
“Are the health outcomes actually better in the subset of people who are receiving genetic information than it is in an equivalent group that is not receiving genetic information?” Christman said.
Lt. Col. Cecili Sessions is head of personalized medicine at the Air Force Medical Support Agency, which approached Coriell to run the study.
“This is what I like to call our pilot study that doesn’t involve pilots,” Sessions said. “It’s really to demonstrate the clinical utility of this type of service, so we can … determine if there’s evidence that this is something we should roll out to a larger group.”
The Air Force volunteers will be followed for about 10 years to track long-term health outcomes.
California-based Air Force medical researcher Maj. Carlos Maldonado said medical personnel are being tested first for a reason.
“You have to go through this first before you start recommending it to patients.,” Maldonado said. “Providers need to know what’s involved, how’s the data translated, what’s it mean to be personalized.”
Maldonado has already submitted a saliva sample to Coriell for analysis.