GHI and the future of medicine

NorthShore is on the forefront of medical research with its commitment to the advancement of personalized medicine through research. Personalized medicine tailors medical interventions to the individual based on their genetic make-up, and GHI aims to advance such knowledge.  GHI is a comprehensive genomic research program designed to investigate genetic variation contributing to diseases, which affect NorthShore patients. GHI is partnering with adult NorthShore patients to perform this important genomic research. Participants make a very small donation of blood from which DNA is extracted, and GHI scientists study the DNA and the participant’s electronic medical record (EMR). The results of these analyses may lead to new insights into the relationships between genetic variation (DNA mutations) and disease.

NorthShore, a setting for innovative research

NorthShore is committed to advancing medical research through our state-of-the-art research programs, as well as providing exceptional patient care. GHI is carefully designed to make important advances in genetic research with a staff comprised of outstanding genetics researchers and physician-scientists specializing in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders. GHI has established state-of-the-art research laboratories to conduct this cutting-edge research. Protecting the participant’s confidentiality is a top priority. The samples will be de-identified, which means they will be labeled with a unique research code instead of your name or other identifying information.

Genetic research improves clinical practice

Genetic research has led to personalized treatment plans for patients and many novel therapeutic interventions. In just the past few years, genetic research conducted here at NorthShore has yielded findings about various diseases, such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and many others.

This research project will give our physician and research experts the opportunity to more proactively learn about the science behind diseases and conditions, and apply this knowledge directly to a clinical setting to improve patient outcomes.

Your participation matters

Genetic research requires the analysis of DNA from very large samples in order to be effective. GHI seeks to partner with tens of thousands of NorthShore patients in order to obtain the vast amounts of genetic data necessary to advance research in various fields of medicine. Each participant brings us closer to uncovering fundamental information about diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, neurological diseases, and other disorders.

Benefits to participants

In time, our genetic research will contribute to improvements in prevention, diagnosis, and treatment for various diseases.

 Importantly, our study may also uncover:

  1. Individual genetic findings that are directly relevant to the health of participants (expected to be a small proportion of the total participants sample currently, though this will grow as research advances), such as high risk for some cancers or for certain cardiovascular disorders that are associated with sudden death.
  2. Genetic characteristics that confer risk to severe toxic reactions to some medications.

Clinically significant findings such the above examples are called actionable if there is also a treatment available. If you are interested in receiving this type of information, you may select “yes” for the recontacting option on the consent form, which allows a genetic counselor to contact you and provide instructions for confirmatory testing and then advise you on a clinical follow-up.

On the other hand, please note that GHI will not return genetic data for disorders for which there is no treatment or prevention. 

A partnership between the NorthShore community and researchers

Patients are becoming more active participants in their own healthcare and are important advocates for medical research. GHI scientists continue to engage the community at various community events, as well as public forums. These events provide an opportunity for the community to learn about the GHI research program as well as meet with the investigators. Please see our How to Participate page for a schedule of our past and upcoming forums.

It’s easy to participate!

If you are interested in partnering with GHI, you can enroll in two ways:

  1. Via NorthShoreConnect – an easy and convenient method for electronic enrollment
  2. At one of our in-person enrollment sites– One of our GHI enrollers will be present to guide you through the enrollment process

Once you have signed our consent form, you will make a one-time donation of a tablespoon of blood at any of NorthShore's hospital outpatient labs or patient service centers. Our physicians and researchers will then conduct research aimed at improving prediction, prevention, and treatment of disease, contributing to the future of health in our community and the medical field for generations to come. We have added multilingual capabilities such as Spanish and Russian language consent forms (and Braille also), along with fluent enrollers and phlebotomists.

For additional information, read our frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Contact us at ghi@northshore.org or 224.364.7470.