“We Have the Potential to Improve Patient Care for Each Veteran We Test.”

More targeted treatments the goal of a $25 million gift from Denny Sanford to Veterans Affairs

Determining the most effective medications for U.S. veterans in need of treatment, is the goal of a new partnership between Sanford Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sanford Health CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft announced Tuesday morning, a $25 million gift from philanthropist Denny Sanford to fund a precision medicine initiative for U.S. veterans. The program, which launches this year at a pilot site in Durham, North Carolina, will initially enroll cancer survivors but will eventually expand to up to 250,000 U.S. veterans at 125 sites by 2022.

The PHASeR: Pharmacogenomics Action for Cancer Survivorship testing effort, will also be funded through a matching fundraising effort from Sanford Health.

The program will come at no cost to veterans, Sanford officials confirmed in a press release. The tests should help determine which medications will be most effective, improving access to appropriate treatments and reducing adverse drug reactions, which research from the NIH shows costs up to $30 billion per year.

“This will be the largest pharmacogenetic testing effort in the country by orders of magnitude,” said Dr. Deepak Voora, M.D., Director, VA PHASeR Program Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine.  “We have the potential to improve patient care for each veteran we test, and the scale of the effort will allow us to see trends and conduct research that could improve medical care for the entire population.”

Veterans will access the test at their local VA facility, Sanford Health will process the tests at its South Dakota-based Imagenetics facility, and the patient’s physician will receive the test results to help with their clinical decision making.

Sanford says he spent eight years in the Air Reserves at the Minneapolis- St. Paul Air Reserve Station. That time, “gave me a window into the incredible sacrifices made by our nation’s service members and their families. I’ve invested in this unique partnership between Sanford Health and the VA as a tribute to those brave, selfless men and women.”

For information on PHASeR, go to https://imagenetics.sanfordhealth.org/veterans-genetic-testing/.

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