GenomeWeb: Dr. Funmi Olopade on How to Advance Precision Cancer Care

Apr 6, 2022

CancerIQ Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. Funmi Olopade Keynotes AMIA: 3 Highlights on How to Democratize and Scale Precision Health


“We actually are really in the age of precision,” said Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, co-founder and chief scientific advisor of CancerIQ, in her March 24th keynote session at the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) Informatics Summit in Chicago.

Addressing a crowd of researchers, data scientists, and medical informaticists, Dr. Olopade shared the promise of precision health to transform cancer outcomes for the better — so long as key informatics challenges can be addressed. Here are three highlights from the session, as featured in GenomeWeb:

 1. Personalized cancer care is finally a reality.

"Now that we have the tools to do whole-genome sequencing and look at mutation signatures, we can actually begin to look at particles and we can then really begin to integrate germline genetics with somatic genetics," Dr. Olopade said. Combined with data on environmental and social stressors, providers have more information than ever before to offer personalized cancer treatment, prevention and early detection plans.

Health systems around the country are already using these precision tools to make a difference in patient lives. One such health system is Adventist Health, which integrated genomics into cancer risk assessments to improve cancer prevention and early detection through the Adventist Health Early All-Around Detection (AHEAD) program.

 2. Data equity is key to unlocking the full value of precision health.

Dr. Olopade’s research has focused on examining risk factors associated with poor cancer outcomes, particularly in populations that have been previously overlooked in medical literature. She helped demonstrate that the reference genome misses a whopping 10% of genetic information for populations of African origin. Healthcare needs more diverse datasets to ensure all patients are benefiting from precision health tools.

"When you have the right tools to classify tumor-normal and when you sequence whole genomes and you actually have [information] about the whole genome, then you are able to do better classification," Dr. Olopade said.

 3. Lastly, EHR-based clinical decision support needs to be part of the solution.

"If [data] gets locked into the EHR, no one is going to act on it, and that's what we're finding in our own hospitals,” Dr. Olopade said. Putting clinical decision support into the hands of primary care providers is critical to improving equity and scaling access to precision cancer prevention and early detection. The AHEAD program at Adventist Health, for example, supports cancer risk assessment in both primary care offices and breast imaging centers alike. By expanding access to precision health tools, the AHEAD program has helped save lives and increase downstream revenue for Adventist Health.


Read the full story on GenomeWeb (subscription required).

Topics: Precision Health