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2 of Boston's top hospitals are rolling out clinics that claim to predict potential diseases with elective (non-essential) genomic sequencing, Stat News' Rebecca Robbins reports.

Why it matters: Healthy people can pay up to thousands in cash, out of pocket, to visit similar genomics clinics at academic centers or hospitals. There is currently no strong evidence to show that healthy patients are benefitting from these clinics, most of which didn't exist more than 5 years ago.

  • The National Human Genome Research Institute is funding research on sequencing outcomes from the Boston Brigham and Women's Preventive Genomics Clinic, according to Dr. Robert Green, a medical geneticist directing Brigham's research.
  • Results from Brigham's genomic sequencing enter the patient's medical record just like any other clinical data, according to Green.

What they're saying: “The idea that genomic sequencing is only going to be accessible by wealthy, well-educated patrons who can pay out of pocket is anathema to the goals of the publicly funded Human Genome Project, and creates new disparities in our health care system,” Dr. Jonathan Berg, a genetics professor at the University of North Carolina, tells Stat News.

The big picture: The University of California in San Francisco, the Mayo Clinic and the nonprofit HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Alabama also offer elective genomic sequencing programs, per Stat News.

By the numbers: Patients at Brigham and Women's Preventive Genomics Clinic pay out of pocket for sequencing that ranges from $250 to $2,950. Patients at HudsonAlpha pay up to $7,000 for "whole genome sequencing and interpretation," Stat News reports.

Driving the news: Gene therapies expected to come with big price tags

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.