Free Genome Sequencing Now Available to all UCSF Patients

Nation's Most Comprehensive Whole-Genome Screening Program Will Advance Inclusive Precision Medicine Across UCSF Health

By Nicholas Weiler | | August 24, 2020

UC San Francisco scientists have launched a precision medicine initiative to offer free voluntary whole genome sequencing to all UCSF Health patients – making it the most comprehensive program of its kind in the nation.

The goal of the initiative, called the UCSF 3D Health Study (for “Data, Discovery, and Diversity”) is to build a genomic database that matches the diversity of UCSF Health’s patient population in order to broaden scientists’ understanding of the genomic variations underlying health and disease and help ensure that precision medicine at UCSF serves all people.

“We need to be able to identify and respond to diseases much earlier than we are now using preventive therapies based on deep understanding of disease biology. Central to that is having genetic data on a diverse spectrum of patient populations that can teach us how to keep everyone well rather than responding in crisis when they become ill,” said UCSF Chief Genomics Officer Aleks Rajkovic, MD, PhD, medical director of the UCSF Health Center for Clinical Genetics and Genomics, who is leading the new initiative.

Other U.S. health centers offer genotyping screens akin to 23andMe, which look for specific known markers of genetic variation, or else sequence panels of specific genes associated with particular diseases. In contrast, the UCSF initiative will sequence the entire genome of any UCSF Health patient who signs up for the study, which can be done at the initiative’s website,  

Patients who participate in the initiative will receive reports on their genetic ancestry as well as actionable genetic risk factors for selected diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological disease. The initiative will only report findings for which there are clear clinical guidelines and management options that will allow UCSF Health providers to work with patients to reduce their health risks in a meaningful way.

“We’re strong believers that if you’re going to do genetic research using patient data, patients should benefit by getting results on valuable insights from the data,” said Elad Ziv, MD, a professor of medicine at UCSF and a lead primary care physician of the project. “To begin with, we are focusing on a very specific list of actionable risk factors, but hope that as we expand this initiative we can add reports on genetic variants in drug response, polygenic risk scores for certain diseases, and other information that will be useful for patients and their medical teams.”