Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine celebrating five years of serving the community and finding answers

When the Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine opened in 2015 on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology campus, it was the one of the first clinics in the world to use genomic sequencing technology to find answers for rare undiagnosed and misdiagnosed diseases.

Led by medical director David Bick, MD, the clinic sees more than 300 patients each year and continues to find answers for patients with rare undiagnosed and misdiagnosed diseases. Patients are seen by the clinic staff who evaluate symptoms, or patient phenotype, and determine whether whole genome sequencing is an appropriate test. The data from the genomic sequence is then interpreted clinically to identify variants, or changes in the DNA, linked to disease.

“Physicians know that establishing a diagnosis is essential to choosing or developing a treatment,” said Bick. “Our purpose is to bring genomics into the practice of medicine so physicians have more effective tools to identify and understand the underlying causes of disorders.”

To support the work of the Smith Family Clinic the HudsonAlpha Foundation established a patient assistance fund, named the Hero Fund, thanks to an anonymous donation. The Hero Fund helps patients at the Smith Family Clinic who need, but cannot afford, access to genomic medicine. One such patient is Jim Wall of Huntsville, Ala. Jim has struggled with back problems, balance problems and swallowing issues for more than 20 years, but just ignored the symptoms and accepted them as a part of life. After two decades of unexplained symptoms and appointments with countless specialists and clinics, Jim finally found the complete answer through the Smith Family Clinic.

Jim tells the full story of finding a diagnosis in this video.

The clinic is named in honor of the Smith Family. Mark C. Smith, cofounder of Adtran in Huntsville, was an active philanthropist in his community. A diagnosis of head and neck cancer in 2000 led to his interest in biotechnology. Smith became actively involved with HudsonAlpha and was one of its founding board members. While Smith died in 2007, his legacy lives on. His wife Linda is now an active HudsonAlpha supporter and the Smith family’s generous support has made it possible to bring personal genomics to patient care in Huntsville and beyond.