For about a decade, teams of doctors and researchers at Geisinger Health System have been researching individuals' genetic makeup to help find mutations or markers and possibly detect early signs of disease.
"We are identifying people who think they are healthy," said Dr. David Ledbetter. "Their doctors think they are healthy and because of this research study we are finding out they are high risk and then when we do the follow up exam we realize they already have early stage cancer."
So far through Geisinger's own 'My Code' study, doctors helped 168 people discover a mutation in their genes. Researchers say early detection can be the difference between living and dying from a disease and sometimes it can mean preventing the disease all together.
Dr. Murugu Manickam is part of the team of doctors with Geisinger's "My Code" study.
"If we can prevent a 40 year old woman from having breast cancer and dying of breast cancer. We are preventing a child from having to lose their mother," said Dr. Manickam
Manickam says the project has studied the genetic makeup of about 120,000 people.With the work of "My Code," Geisinger was chosen to be part of a much large national study to prevent diseases called the Precision Medicine Initiative.
The initiative was announced by the president about 2 years ago and will be federally funded.
"Nobody has really done this on a national level with the number of a million patients,"added Manickham.
Geisinger's Chief Scientific Officer David Ledbetter will lead the study for Geisinger, and the research will be shared with eight other health care providers around the country.
"We feel good about bringing that modern knowledge and technological high quality of care to a rural population that is usually medically undeserved," said Ledbetter.