GGB Joins Global Alliance for Genomics and Health

Published October 6, 2015 This content is archived.

story by adrienne boudreau

The Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics (GGB) graduate program is now an institutional member of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH).

“Finding appropriate research and physician partners for both basic and clinical research will become easier. ”
Director of the Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Program

The GA4GH aims to promote the safe and secure communication of genomic information internationally to foster research and improve healthcare.

New Tools and Procedures Available

GA4GH has many tools under development for use by its members, including software to help communicate genomic data as well as manipulating next-generation sequencing data. 

The group is developing software called Matchmaker Exchange. The software will allow researchers to identify patients with particular, rare diseases, said Richard M. Gronostajski, PhD, director of the GGB program and professor of biochemistry.

Sharing Information While Maintaining Privacy

The system GA4GH members use to share information internationally will allow researchers to determine how many patients in the world have been sequenced with that specific mutation in one gene. 

“You could query around the world and search all the genomic centers and get back a de-identified list of patients that could potentially be recruited for a specific clinical trial,” explained Gronostajski.

One of the GA4GH’s biggest goals is to develop techniques to maintain the privacy of patient healthcare records while sharing important genomic and healthcare information. This is especially true in the U.S. where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act restricts medical record sharing. 

Connecting Collaborators

Easier information sharing may remove one more barrier from collaborators who are trying to connect nationally and internationally.

“It should make it easier to find partners interested in collaborating with medical faculty at UB who are also interested in studying genetic disease. Finding appropriate research and physician partners for both basic and clinical research will become easier,” added Gronostajski.