Integrated health delivery network Geisinger has launched its new National Precision Health Initiative and named noted geneticist Huntington Willard to lead the new endeavor. The new, focused initiative will be based in Washington, D.C. with the aim of giving it broader national exposure.
Under Willard’s leadership the initiative will further develop Geisinger’s model of integrating genomics and data science to aid in the delivery of precision healthcare, while also seeking out new collaborations and partnerships to spread this model nationally.
“I'm thrilled to be joining the Geisinger family. I know of no other health system with such dedication to putting patients and their health first,” Willard said in a press release. “I look forward to launching new programs committed to broadening Geisinger's impact in precision health on a national scale.”
Many of the new programs will spring from the launch of the new Precision Health Innovation Lab, to be launched by Willard when he formally joins Geisinger in January. To spur development of the new lab, Willard will draw on his extensive experience in the field including as founding director (in 2003) of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, and most recently as the president of Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. Willard has has more than 300 publications to his name and is the author of what is considered the first textbook on precision medicine “”Genomic & Precision Medicine.”
“Hunt Willard has built world-class genomics and precision health programs at several academic institutions and we look forward to his greatly enhancing our ability to rapidly expand the Geisinger model for precision health on a national scale” said David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., Geisinger executive vice president and chief scientific officer.
Gesinger President and CEO David T. Feinberg, M.D., noted that hiring Willard allows the health system to “double down” on its care model that emphasizes preventative medicine. “We are already seeing this benefit to our patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and are eager to extend this program nationally,” Feinberg said.
Willard is no stranger to the care delivery models of Geisinger. He has served as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board since 2011 and was instrumental in the development of the Geisinger strategic plan, which was released in 2014.