Thursday, October 22, 2009

Follow up to Yesterday's WTF? Harvard, Navi? and Pfizer???

So I was thinking about all of this hullabaloo and how Beth Israel Deaconess flipped the script by using non-clinically validated, non medical tests to teach residents about medical genetics.....

Yes, that is pretty freaking preposterous in and of itself, but I have a deeper concern.....

"Beth Israel has launched the Personalized Genomics and Next Generation Sequencing Training Program, which includes a series of lectures, discussions, and presentations, aimed at promoting a better understanding of the personalized genomics field and next-generation sequencing technologies."

Ok, so my question is. Who will be giving the lectures?

Let me put this another way.....

"NewsFlash" (This is not true, however it is just as preposterous and written to illustrate a point)

Harvard Medical School has agreed to partner with Pfizer to educate young resident physicians about pharmacology.

Residents will receive a series of lectures crafted by Pfizer to help physicians understand the complexities of pharmacology.
To help the young physicians a pharmaceutical specialist employed by Pfizer will take the residents out to dinner and give lectures crafted by Pfizer.

To further enhance the training, all physicians will be given free samples of viagra/modafinil to help them understand how the medication works

"We believe that pharmacology and pharmacogenetics will be critical to the future of health care," Mark Boguski, of BIDMC's Department of Pathology and the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement.

"Training our residents on the leading pharmaceutical services and technologies will be essential to this future."

(End Fake Story)

Do you get what I am saying yet, or are you such a blind supporter of DTC genomics to see the absolutely clear freaking conflict of interests here?

And for such a school which focuses so much on Conflicts of Interest, I am blown away that this program has not yet been shut down.....

You can email Mark Boguski at if you think this is as crazy as I do. Or maybe a phone call? 617-432-7375

The Sherpa Says: Do you see what I am getting at Mark? This is sketchy at best....


Keith Robison said...

Isn't it a tad premature to condemn a speaker series without seeing the speakers? Suggesting that this automatically includes freebies & such is ridiculous.

The DTC genomics companies you fulminate against will not be around for very long. However, the current crop of medical professionals will be around for a long time. We will soon be in an era where extensive (if not complete) genomic information is routinely available to patients & clinicians. Institutions such as Harvard & BI can either imperfectly educate the current crop or ensure that they are completely unprepared for the cosmic shift which they will face.

Andrew said...

Hey, 23andMe is now sharing user data over websites for outside advertising.

Visit . Note the advertisements by

Then, visit .

Go back to and refresh the page. BAM! 23andMe ads.

Steve Murphy MD said...


"Ok, so my question is. Who will be giving the lectures?"

What part of that is condemning the series?

And, will the residents be paying for the genome analysis? Will the institution? My guess is no.

I agree that we have to teach this stuff to residents. I have been doing that for nearly 2 years now.

We don't need DTC Genomics to do our job, WE NEED TO DO OUR JOB.......


Molecular Creativity said...

There is growing recognition that the vast majority of doctors are not yet engaged in genetic testing and not prepared, I quote the LA times,
"A survey of more than 10,000 U.S. physicians undertaken by the American Medical Assn. and the pharmacy benefits manager Medco Healthcare Solutions Inc. found that just more than one in four had had any type of education in the use of genetic testing to guide medication decisions. And only 1 in 10 felt he or she had the necessary training and knowledge to put pharmacogenetic testing to good use in treating patients. Some 13% had ordered or recommended a genetic test for a patient in the last six months. But twice that many said they would do so in the next six months."

I would be curious about your thoughts on the testing of Duke football players-there is a study under review, internal IRB regarding this possibility. I think testing of athletes is another area that will grow rapidly.
ESPN has a 5 minute video on genetic testing of athletes.

Steve Murphy MD said...

@Molecular Athletic testing should have absolutely nothing to do with doctors.......

Unlike dosing medications based on genetic information. Which IS medicine.

Turns out in the same survey 98% of Physicians think PGX is clinically relevant. I will watch the video.

Thanks for the heads up!