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Implementing Genomic Medicine in Pathology

Williams, Eli S. PhD; Hegde, Madhuri PhD, FACMG

Advances in Anatomic Pathology: July 2013 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 238–244
doi: 10.1097/PAP.0b013e3182977199
Review Articles

The finished sequence of the Human Genome Project, published 50 years after Watson and Crick’s seminal paper on the structure of DNA, pushed human genetics into the public eye and ushered in the genomic era. A significant, if overlooked, aspect of the race to complete the genome was the technology that propelled scientists to the finish line. DNA sequencing technologies have become more standardized, automated, and capable of higher throughput. This technology has continued to grow at an astounding rate in the decade since the Human Genome Project was completed. Today, massively parallel sequencing, or next-generation sequencing (NGS), allows the detection of genetic variants across the entire genome. This ability has led to the identification of new causes of disease and is changing the way we categorize, treat, and manage disease. NGS approaches such as whole-exome sequencing and whole-genome sequencing are rapidly becoming an affordable genetic testing strategy for the clinical laboratory. One test can now provide vast amounts of health information pertaining not only to the disease of interest, but information that may also predict adult-onset disease, reveal carrier status for a rare disease and predict drug responsiveness. The issue of what to do with these incidental findings, along with questions pertaining to NGS testing strategies, data interpretation and storage, and applying genetic testing results into patient care, remains without a clear answer. This review will explore these issues and others relevant to the implementation of NGS in the clinical laboratory.

Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Madhuri Hegde, PhD, FACMG, Emory Genetics Laboratory, Department of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322 (e-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.