St. Jude Implements PG4KDS Pharmacogenetic Testing

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Logo

One of the biggest barriers to the adoption of pharmacogenetics is uncertainty about implementation, but major institutions are already pursing pharmacogenetics. For instance, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital just published their pediatric pharmacogenetics program model.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a pediatric treatment facility located in Memphis, Tennessee that’s famous for its dedication to patient care and its embrace of innovative strategies. They’ve always been interested in personalizing medicine—now they’re implementing a new pharmacogenetics testing program as well.

This implementation is timelier than ever. Mary Relling, PharmD, the St. Jude Pharmaceutical Sciences chair, says in an article, “There are now several medications strongly affected by genetic variation; if we can test patients before they are treated with those medications, we have an opportunity to choose a better drug or a better dose of the drug right from the start.”

St. Jude’s program involves testing CYP2D6, CYP2C19, TMPT and SLCO1B1 and tying those genotypes to twelve high-risk drugs in the EHR. Testing results showed that 78% of children tested had at least one high-risk genotype.

This program is buoyed by a strong support structure, including a Family Advisory Council and Ethics Committee, a Pharmacogenetic Oversight Committee, a clinical pharmacogenetics coordinator and an accredited residency training program. Plans are in place to eventually implement more complex testing processes and at least eight new genes. St. Jude credits their institution-wide support and education programs for their success.

Other well-known institutions that are pursing pharmacogenetics include the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins University, the Cleveland Clinic and Baylor College of Medicine.