Drake State, HudsonAlpha Bring Genomic Health Options to College Employees

September 20, 2021

Faculty and staff at Drake State Community & Technical College in Huntsville, Ala. are being given greater insight into their future disease risk thanks to a new collaboration with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance.

The voluntary program, offered as an employee wellness benefit and accessible through the Community Health Action Center on the Oakwood University Campus, will give Drake State employees access to genetic screening that can help identify disease risk as well as medication response to certain drugs.

“HudsonAlpha’s Health Alliance program opens up new wellness options previously inaccessible by most of our employees,’ said Dr. Patricia Sims, Drake State President. “We hope by providing this insight about their health risks our employees can make more informed health care decisions.”

While most diseases are not caused by a specific change in a person’s DNA, there are some genes in which changes are known to cause a significantly increased risk of disease. This genomic screening test will look for known changes in a set of genes that are associated with an increased risk for an “actionable” disease.

Drake State faculty and staff can also learn how specific areas of their DNA might predict whether certain medications will be effective or if they are likely to cause adverse drug reactions. Often medications will prove effective for one person, while simultaneously ineffective for another person.

“The information we learn from genomic testing can provide insights into early disease risk detection and intervention, help us make better health decisions, and even target health therapies that lead to better health outcomes,” said Dr. Darrell Ezell, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for HudsonAlpha. “Making these types of tests more accessible to a broader section of our community is a focus of HudsonAlpha’s mission. Working with historically black colleges and universities such as Drake State is an important step to making genomic testing more accessible to all.”

The HudsonAlpha Health Alliance was built to enable employers to advance their wellness programs through a collaboration with HudsonAlpha Health Alliance’s team of scientists, clinicians, and educators. Colleges, universities, health systems, self-insured employers, tribal nations and physician networks work with the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance to develop customized genomic health screening programs for their patient or employee populations.

The HudsonAlpha Health Alliance has similar programs in place with groups such as East Alabama Medical Center and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. For more information about how the HudsonAlpha Health Alliance can help you develop a customized genomic screening program for your group, visit https://hudsonalpha.org/alliance or email info@hahealthalliance.org.