Dr. Carmona urged families and employers in all parts of the country to follow the lead of Brigham and Women's Hospital, which held a press conference in Boston today to launch its effort to support and evaluate the voluntary use of the Surgeon General's "My Family Health Portrait" tool among its more than 12,000 employees. The workforce of the 735-bed hospital includes physicians, nurses, administrative, service and management staff.
"Not only is Brigham and Women's a nationally recognized hospital and major academic medical center, it, like many hospitals, is a major employer in its community. I commend Brigham and Women's for recognizing that collecting a family history can improve the health of their employees, as well as the health of the employee's family members living throughout the community," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is a partner in the U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative.
In the past year, more than 360,000 copies of the original "My Family Health Portrait" computer tool, which is available in English and in Spanish, have been downloaded from the HHS Web site. In addition, more than 85,000 print copies of the tool have been distributed nationwide.
"Building on the foundation laid by the Human Genome Project, we have made tremendous strides towards developing ways to identify and quickly test for the glitches that we all carry in our genes. But we aren't there yet. So, the best thing each of us can do right now to help our health-care providers develop a personalized disease prevention plan is to gather a family health history," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the NIH.
To expand the initiative's reach and impact, NHGRI's Education and Community Involvement Branch this year sought proposals for a demonstration project to educate and engage a
Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute