Sanford Health announces $125M gift to fund genomic initiative

SIOUX FALLS – Sanford Health announced recently Denny Sanford, the preeminent health care philanthropist in the United States, will gift the organization $125 million to establish Sanford Imagenetics, a first-of-its-kind program in the country that integrates genomic medicine into primary care for adults.

“Mr. Sanford’s generosity to this organization is humbling,” said Kelby Krabbenhoft, president and CEO of Sanford Health. “Including this $125 million gift, Denny has given Sanford Health nearly a billion dollars. It’s an incredible honor as well as a tremendous responsibility.”

Internal medicine physicians assist adult patients by diagnosing and managing complex health issues.

Later this year, Sanford Imagenetics will offer patients the opportunity to undergo precise genetic testing and genetic counseling, which will provide internal medicine physicians with unprecedented patient-specific information.

Arming these physicians with their patients’ genetic information will improve their ability to prescribe the right medication, appropriate dose or most effective treatment with drugs such as statins and blood thinners.

“Most physicians can only dream of what it would be like to practice not only on the cutting edge of medical advancement but also work to fundamentally change how patients are treated. The creation of this environment does not occur spontaneously. It requires great leadership and generosity at a level not previously seen,” said Eric Larson, MD, board-certified internal medicine physician with Sanford Health.

Sanford Health has a long-standing history of providing comprehensive genetic health care to the region. With Sanford Imagenetics, Sanford’s MD geneticists, genetic counselors and diagnostic clinical genetics laboratories will move hand in hand with the organizations’ internal medicines physicians.

There are currently no organizations in the country that similarly embed genetics health care professionals into these primary care practices.

“Thanks to Mr. Sanford’s continued generosity, Sanford Health will take a national lead role in using existing genetic markers and incorporating future discoveries for internists to individualize care for patients with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and other conditions,” said Dan Blue, MD, president Sanford Clinic.

Sanford Imagenetics will include development of a rigorous research program to define the genomic markers most successful in managing primary care for adults.

“We will also study the outcomes to evaluate the efficacy of this approach as well as in-depth bioinformatics research focused on the practical clinical interpretation of the complicated biological data,” said Gene Hoyme, MD, president of Sanford Research and board certified geneticist.

As a part of this initiative, Sanford Health will also have dedicated facilities in all major markets to accommodate implementation of this new program throughout the enterprise. Depending on the region, these facilities would house the internal medicine practice, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, research, education, and lab services.

Sanford Health has already begun recruiting the best and brightest in the fields of internal medicine and genetics to support Sanford Imagenetics. Additionally, Sanford Imagenetics has developed initial partnerships with Augustana College and the University of South Dakota to develop new academic programs that train the next generation of doctors, nurses and scientists in genomic medicine.

Learn more at sanfordhealth.org/imagenetics.

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