Huntsville, Ala. — Two years ago today, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, in collaboration with Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Medicine, opened the Smith Family Clinic for Genomic Medicine.
Located on the HudsonAlpha campus, the Smith Family Clinic is believed to be the first stand-alone in the world designed solely for using genomic medicine to provide answers to patients with rare, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed diseases believed to be genetic in nature.
Since opening in 2015, the clinic has seen many children and adults from around the world who are struggling with an undiagnosed or misdiagnosed disease.
“What makes this clinic unique is not only our focus on undiagnosed disease — but also that we sequence the whole genome, rather than just part of the genome,” said David Bick, MD, medical director at Smith Family Clinic. “Sequencing the whole genome gives us a much larger data set, and we know by experience that many disease-causing variants aren’t identified by sequencing the exome or panels of genes alone.
In addition, the HudsonAlpha Foundation established a patient assistance fund, named the Hero Fund, thanks to 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 had a complete answer.
Jim tells the full story of finding a diagnosis in the following video.
HudsonAlpha also established the Insight Genome program for individuals interested in unlocking the secrets of their genome, or genetic code. The clinical program is housed at Smith Family Clinic and was developed specifically to tell patients today about their risks for developing specific medical conditions– or passing them onto their children– and to help inform future healthcare decisions.
The clinic is named in honor of the Smith Family. Their generous support has made it possible to bring genomic medicine to Huntsville, Alabama and beyond.
“All the members of the Smith family are honored to have the opportunity to support this first-of-its-kind clinic,” said Clay Smith, Owner and President of M.C. Smith Interests, Dallas, Texas and Principal of Smith Asset Management Company, located in Dallas, Texas and Huntsville, Ala. “My late father Mark Smith was involved with HudsonAlpha from the beginning but I don’t know if he could have foreseen this accomplishment.”
To learn more about the Smith Family Clinic, visit smithfamilyclinic.org/.
About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to innovating in the field of genomic technology and sciences across a spectrum of biological challenges. Opened in 2008, its mission is four-fold: sparking scientific discoveries that can impact human health and well-being; bringing genomic medicine into clinical care; fostering life sciences entrepreneurship and business growth; and encouraging the creation of a genomics-literate workforce and society. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second largest research park. Designed to be a hothouse of biotech economic development, HudsonAlpha’s state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. The relationships formed on the HudsonAlpha campus encourage collaborations that produce advances in medicine and agriculture. HudsonAlpha has become a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and includes more than 30 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit hudsonalpha.org.