Lebanese American University


Analyzing personal genome: A critical instrument in patient treatment

A guest lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Murray from the University of Iowa examines the critical role of a patient’s genetic makeup in treating diseases.

Dr. Kamal Badr, founding dean of LAU's School of Medicine, introduces Dr. Jeffrey Murray, professor of neonatology, genetics, biological sciences, dentistry and epidemiology at the University of Iowa.

Murray explains how genetic testing is being used to tailor patient treatments.

The ways cutting-edge innovations in genomics are being applied to patient treatment and disease study were revealed during a lecture at LAU Beirut on January 14 by Dr. Jeffrey Murray, professor of neonatology, genetics, biological sciences, dentistry and epidemiology at the University of Iowa.

During the lecture, titled “Personal Genome for All,” Murray offered several examples of how scanning and analyzing a human’s personal genome — an increasingly common practice in medicine — can benefit individuals with treatable conditions.

“Individual or personal genome has great utility in targeting the proper drugs and doses to individuals,” Murray said. “And it has the ability to identify high-risk populations who can benefit from targeted screening.”

Murray explained that the personal genome is also helping to create a transition from population medicine, a historical practice of giving patients standard treatments and doses for a particular disease, toward a more individualized approach allowing doctors to prescribe treatments and doses based on a patient’s genetic makeup.

“We can use this concept of the genome approach to give us insights into the idea of personalized medicine … and use that as a motivating force for people to have sequential screening done for diseases that they are at higher risk for, and for people to undergo lifestyle changes if the diseases are amenable to lifestyle changes,” he said.

“In five minutes, you’re all going to know more about me than my mother,” Murray added, as he revealed the results of his own personal genome, which accurately predicted a number of conditions.

But besides the genome, Murray said that other factors — environment, stress, diet, etc. — still play a significant role in determining health.

Therefore, he added, the genome cannot be solely relied upon to predict with complete accuracy the onset of a symptom or disease, or to guarantee that an individual will never get a disease that the results of an individual’s genome scan found to be low-risk.

The event was organized by LAU’s new School of Medicine, which has ties to the University of Iowa.

“We have been developing a very good relationship with the University of Iowa,” said Dr. Kamal Badr, founding dean of LAU’s medical school. According to Badr, the University of Iowa has supported LAU’s anatomy and histology programs.

With the help of Murray, LAU was also able to initiate a summer research program at the University of Iowa. Two LAU medical students took advantage of that program as it was launched last year.


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