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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

23andMe launches its first diabetes risk assessment

Consumer genetics giant 23andMe has announced that it will begin offering a report that tells customers how their DNA affects their chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Its new test, developed using data from more than 2.5 million of the company’s customers who agreed to participate in research, analyzes genetic variants to generate what’s known as a polygenic risk score, the equivalent of a genetic credit score. The company is taking pains to stress that genetic risk and overall risk can be quite different. Still, some experts are hopeful that the 23andMe test will send at-risk patients to see a physician who wouldn’t otherwise do so.

Major medical groups announce partnership to support women physicians

Six major medical groups just launched the Women's Wellness Through Equity and Leadership project, which aims to tackle issues experienced by early-to-mid-career women physicians — including burnout, pay inequities, and other forms of discrimination — through mentorship and networking opportunities. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Hospital Association are among the organizations leading the project. In the first iteration, three women physicians from each of the six organizations will participate in an 18-month training with a focus on interventions to prevent burnout.

CRISPR documentary ‘Human Nature’ premieres at SXSW

A feature-length documentary chronicling the story of CRISPR premiered at the SXSW festival yesterday. “Human Nature” is described as “a provocative exploration of CRISPR’s far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it’s affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits.” The film, which doesn’t hesitate to call CRISPR “the most important scientific discovery of the 21st century” in its trailer, is produced by veteran journalist Dan Rather and includes commentary from Jennifer Doudna, Feng Zhang, George Church, and others who have played a key role in launching the gene- editing technology to its important — and controversial — status.

Inside STAT: How the reference genome is undermining personalized medicine


The human reference genome is the closest thing that genomics has to a dictionary. Scientists looking to find rare diseases, for instance, can check the sequence of a patient against what’s listed in the reference genome to see if there’s a match. But this guide was largely constructed using genomes from European descendants around Buffalo, N.Y., and falls short in many ways. These shortcomings are not just hampering the diagnosis of rare disorders and leading to missed mutations in non-Europeans, but also threatening the dream of genetically based personalized medicine. STAT’s Sharon Begley has the full story here.

Iowa Supreme Court rules Medicaid must cover transgender care

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled late last week that the state Medicaid program has to cover sex reassignment surgery, upholding a June 2018 ruling by a lower court. The original case was brought by Carol Ann Beal and EerieAnna Good, both of whom identify as female and sought coverage for the surgery, which their medical providers said was medically necessary to treat their gender dysphoria. Their request was denied twice by the state Medicaid program before they sued in 2017. The state’s Supreme Court rejected the Iowa Department of Human Services policy that gender-affirming surgery is “cosmetic, reconstructive, or plastic surgery” that is “performed primarily for psychological purposes.”

FDA issues warning about surgical staplers

The FDA just sent a letter to health care providers warning them about an increasing number of medical reports and complaints over the use of surgical staplers and implantable staples, which are often used in place of stitches to close up wounds. The agency said that it had analyzed over 41,000 reports about the devices from 2011 to early 2018 and found more than 360 deaths and over 9,000 serious injuries, with more than 32,000 malfunctions as a result of the tools. The most common complaints, the agency said, included a misfiring of the stapler and the opening up of stapled wounds. The agency also plans to issue this year a draft guidance on recommendations for device and staple manufacturers and information to include in product labeling.

What to read around the web today

  • Roche scores first U.S. approval of immunotherapy for breast cancer. STAT
  • Ebola treatment center in Congo is attacked again, leaving 1 dead. Associated Press 
  • Opinion: What using animals for scientific research taught me about myself. STAT
  • Doctor on video screen told a man he was near death, leaving relatives aghast. The New York Times
  • Most doctors don’t screen for dementia, but that may change in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, March 11, 2019


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