Nevada’s DNA genetic testing program could transform health care industry, says Kazmierski

DNA Will Change How we as a Society Define Personalized Health Care

Curated from Reno Gazette Journal Article

While Nevada is not widely known as a health care innovator, despite the many quality health care providers in the state, the Healthy Nevada Project is changing that.

Mike Kazmierski

Mike Kazmierski (Photo: Provided)

Beginning almost three years ago, the Healthy Nevada Project, the fastest-enrolling genetic study in the U.S., is now returning clinical results for more than 38,000 study participants. During the project’s launch in September 2016, more than 10,000 community members signed up for DNA testing in just 48 hours. Now, with 38,000 study participants, the project has announced its next phase — expanding enrollment to 25,000 people in southern Nevada. This revolutionary approach to health care will help to accelerate our economic transformation in Northern Nevada and could transform the health care industry nationwide.

Healthy Nevada Project launched in 2016: In May 2016, Dr. Tony Slonim, CEO of Renown, and Joe Grzymski, Ph.D. at the Desert Research Institute, met to discuss combining Renown’s clinical data with DRI’s environmental data to better understand how external factors affect health outcomes. Their efforts lead to the Healthy Nevada Project, which looks at four determinants of health: genetic, behavioral, social and environmental, in addition to clinical health factors like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol. This holistic view of health is the next level of health care and enables health care providers to diagnose and deliver a precision response to an individual’s unique health care needs.


Only 10% of your health is determined by the care you receive: All five determinants of health influence health status. Most health care organizations focus their efforts on just one, the clinical factor: hospital services to improve health.

However, according to the National Academy of Medicine, research shows that only 10% to 20% of an individual’s health status may be attributed to the health care they receive. The greatest opportunity to improve health is to improve behavioral, social and environmental factors.

“Combining environmental, clinical, and social factors with genetic data allows us to discover risk factors within communities and take action to live longer, healthier lives,” said Slonim. “That’s what makes the Healthy Nevada Project and Healthy USA Project so exciting.”

More: Renown, DRI want detailed DNA from 40,000 more people including children

Nevada is serving as a national model: The Healthy Nevada Project has launched the Healthy USA Project and serves as a national model for population health studies across the country. There is no other community that is as far along in exploring population health as we are. We have some real “first mover” advantages, such as our proximity to the Bay Area; Renown’s focus on “health” rather than health care; the research expertise of the Desert Research Institute; the UNR School of Medicine and its biomedical research; the support from the state; the enrollment of tens of thousands of residents for genetics testing; the significant growth of technology in the region; and our outdoor quality of life. All of these factors make us uniquely qualified to lead these efforts to change the health care model for the world.

Healthy Nevada Project is part of the new Nevada: This pioneering approach to population health and data-driven health science solutions is really happening. The excitement is building. As the word gets out, dozens of life science companies and several top scientists in the area of genetics and medicine have contacted Renown to see how they can get involved in this initiative. Collaboration has already begun with Gilead Life Sciences, one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world.

The potential of this project is incredible and will accelerate our ongoing economic transformation while revolutionizing the entire health care industry, right here in Reno-Sparks.

Nevadans over age 18 who interested in taking part can learn more and enroll at

Mike Kazmierski is president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

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