Genome Medical Taps Hunt Willard to Lead New Population Genomics Program

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Geisinger Health System Huntington F Willard
Huntington F. Willard joining Genome Medical (PRNewsfoto/Geisinger Health System)

Genomics-focused telemedicine company Genome Medical today announced it has tapped prominent geneticist, Huntington Willard, PhD, to lead a new population genomics program at the company. The change of scenery for Willard comes after a 10-year association with Geisinger Health, the last two years spearheading the launch of Geisinger National Precision Health.

Also joining Willard—who will be the chief scientific officer and SVP of medical affairs—at Genome Medical are two Geisinger colleagues who have worked directly with him over the past two years: Erica Ramos, MS, LCGC, who was named vice president of population genomics; and Beth Denne, MS, CGC, as director of education and engagement. Both Ramos and Denne bring more than 20 years of experience as genetic counselors to their roles, vital experienced needed for management of health programs focused on genomic health.

Willard announced his new post at the Precision Medicine World Conference, in Santa Clara, CA yesterday at the beginning of a panel discussion on the topic of moving population genomics into the standard of care. He noted that Genome Medical is “very much focused on implementation, in the context of high-volume direct integration of the practice of precision medicine.”

The key technology driving Genome Medical’s population genomics efforts is Genome Care Delivery, a cloud-based platform launched in October focused on what the company feels are the four elements of providing comprehensive genomic health services:

  • Education provided by curated content, adaptive videos, webinars and other resources about genetic conditions, genetic testing and its potential impact on patient care;
  • Assessment tools offered online including virtual care visits with genetic specialists to identify patients at increased for a genetic condition;
  • Selection of patients to guide them to appropriate care pathways for personalized recommendations for appropriate genetic testing; and
  • Integration of patients and treating physicians to receive personalized clinical action plans based on genetic test results and medical management guidelines, as well as personal and family health history.

Landing Willard and his team could be considered a coup for Genome Medical as it looks to build its national medical practice of genomic medicine looking to provide its services to employers, health systems and other medical providers.

“Hunt has led multiple significant initiatives in genomics, including launching the National Precision Health program at Geisinger. Under his leadership, this team will help us execute on key partnerships with hospitals and health systems to further democratize genomics for all populations,” noted Genome Medical CEO Lisa Alderson in a press release announcing his appointment and the formal launch of its population genomics program.

In addition to his stint at Geisinger, Willard is an elected member of the National Academies of Medicine and of Sciences, a former president of the American Society of Human Genetics, and founding director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy.

“Genome Medical’s business needs as a leading medical practice and telegenomics company align well with my expertise in developing and operating precision health initiatives,” Willard said.

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