In the second part of our Genetics at LetsGetChecked series, we spoke to Dr. Avni Santani, Chief Genomics Officer at LetsGetChecked, to learn about the benefits and value of genetic insights, the future of genetic testing, and how LetsGetChecked is making genetics more approachable and empowering patients and providers.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your career journey to date.

I’ve always had an interest in science, and pretty early on, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career taking care of patients. I became interested in genetics and the laboratory diagnostics industry, so after undergrad and working in a diagnostics lab in India, I decided to pursue further studies in genetics.

I earned my master's and Ph.D. in Genetics and pursued a board certification in molecular genetics and cytogenetics. Later, I was fortunate to work in a leading pediatric institution in varying capacities, including as Director of Clinical Laboratories and Strategic Initiatives at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), as well as as an Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania.

After 15 years, I moved over to the industry side of genetics, becoming the Chief Medical Officer at Veritas Genetics, where I was responsible for the company’s clinical development plans and medical affairs. I joined LetsGetChecked with the acquisition of Veritas Genetics and serve as the Chief Genomics Officer, where I’m responsible for the strategy, direction, and execution of genomics initiatives to enhance personalized healthcare.

What is the most exciting aspect of working at LetsGetChecked?

The most exciting aspect of working at LetsGetChecked and leading the genomics programs is the profound impact we have on people's lives, especially considering the accessibility challenges prevalent in genomics, population health, and precision medicine. Historically, these fields have been constrained by factors such as cost, limited access to testing facilities, and disparities in healthcare access among different populations.

At LetsGetChecked, we recognize these challenges as opportunities for innovation and change. Our platform is designed with accessibility in mind, offering convenient, at-home testing solutions that bypass traditional barriers to access. By providing individuals with the ability to collect samples in the comfort of their homes and access comprehensive genomic insights remotely, we're democratizing access to vital health information.

Moreover, our commitment to population health extends beyond mere accessibility. We understand the importance of ensuring that our services are tailored to diverse populations, accounting for genetic variations and cultural sensitivities. This inclusive approach not only enhances the accuracy and relevance of our testing but also fosters trust and engagement within communities.

In the realm of precision medicine, our focus on empowering individuals with personalized insights sets us apart. By combining advanced genomic analysis with user-friendly interfaces and expert guidance, we're enabling individuals to make informed decisions about their health journey. Whether identifying genetic predispositions to certain conditions or optimizing treatment strategies, our goal is to empower individuals to take proactive control of their health.

In essence, LetsGetChecked is uniquely positioned to address the accessibility challenges in genomics, population health, and precision medicine. Through our innovative testing solutions, commitment to inclusivity, and dedication to personalized care, we're making strides toward a future where everyone has equal access to the transformative benefits of genomic insights.

What are the benefits and value of genetic screening?

Genetic testing offers a multitude of benefits and holds significant value for patients, payers, and the healthcare system. Firstly, it enables early detection of disease risk by identifying genetic variations associated with certain conditions, allowing for proactive measures to mitigate risks or undergo more frequent screening for early detection.

Secondly, genetic testing facilitates personalized treatment approaches by providing insights into an individual's genetic makeup, thereby optimizing treatment efficacy and minimizing adverse effects. This tailored approach to healthcare leads to better outcomes and improved patient satisfaction.

Moreover, it plays a crucial role in family planning and reproductive health by identifying risks of passing on genetic disorders to offspring, empowering individuals and couples to make informed decisions about family planning.

Furthermore, it contributes to research and medical advancements by aiding ongoing efforts to understand the genetic basis of diseases and develop new treatment strategies. Through participation in genetic testing initiatives, individuals can contribute to scientific advancements and potentially benefit future generations.

Genetic testing has the potential to have a significant impact on healthcare by enabling personalized, preventive, and precise approaches to diagnosis and treatment, ultimately leading to better health outcomes and improved quality of life.

What is next for LetsGetChecked? Are there any exciting projects that you are involved in?

Looking ahead, LetsGetChecked is focused on several key initiatives to enhance our impact in the healthcare landscape further. We're excited to implement pharmacogenomics-based, precision medicine programs that leverage advanced genomic analysis to provide personalized insights and treatment strategies for individuals. By tailoring healthcare to individual needs, we aim to revolutionize patient care and improve health outcomes.

Additionally, we're committed to driving population health initiatives that address health disparities and promote preventive care. Through targeted interventions and partnerships with employers and health plans, we're dedicated to improving the health and well-being of entire communities.

Expanding our testing capabilities to include screening for CDC tier 1 conditions with myGeneticScreen is another important goal for LetsGetChecked. By offering comprehensive testing panels, we can facilitate early detection and intervention for conditions that pose significant public health challenges, ultimately improving health outcomes for individuals and populations.

Lastly, LetsGetChecked is poised to enter the diagnostics space with innovative testing solutions that streamline the diagnostic process and enhance patient engagement. By leveraging our expertise in at-home testing and remote monitoring, we aim to develop diagnostic solutions that drive innovation in healthcare delivery and improve accessibility.

Overall, these initiatives underscore LetsGetChecked's commitment to empowering individuals to take control of their health and improving health outcomes on a global scale.

How is LetsGetChecked making genetics more approachable and empowering patients and providers?

Traditionally, the genetics testing model has held friction both for the provider and the patient. LetsGetChecked’s end-to-end model, including manufacturing, logistics, lab analysis, and clinician support, makes it easy for individuals to engage in genetic testing and for providers to access these results. LetsGetChecked plays a crucial role in enhancing accessibility to genetic testing, offering convenient at-home testing solutions that bypass traditional barriers to access.

By providing individuals with the ability to collect samples at home and access comprehensive genetic insights remotely, LetsGetChecked is democratizing access to vital health information. Patients can access counseling services from genetic experts, clinical decision support, downloadable results reports, and a robust expert-created genetics information hub. As a result, the patient experience, from test ordering to receiving and understanding results, is seamless.

What do you believe the future of genetic testing looks like? And how does LetsGetChecked fit into that?

The future of genomics in healthcare holds tremendous promise, with innovations poised to transform the way we approach diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. As we continue to unlock the complexities of the human genome, genomics will play an increasingly central role in personalized medicine, population health, and medical research.

LetsGetChecked is uniquely positioned to contribute to this future by democratizing access to genomic insights and empowering individuals to take proactive control of their health. Through our at-home testing solutions and comprehensive genetic analysis, we provide individuals with valuable information about their genetic predispositions, allowing for early detection, personalized treatment approaches, and informed decision-making.

In the coming years, we envision genomics becoming even more integrated into routine healthcare practices, with genetic screening and analysis becoming standard components of preventive care. LetsGetChecked will continue to innovate and expand our genomics programs, leveraging advancements in technology and scientific research to offer increasingly personalized and comprehensive testing solutions.

Furthermore, LetsGetChecked is committed to advancing population health initiatives by addressing health disparities and promoting equitable access to genomic testing. By partnering with healthcare providers, employers, and public health organizations, we aim to improve health outcomes for diverse populations and drive positive change on a global scale.

Overall, LetsGetChecked is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of genomics in healthcare by making genetic testing more accessible, personalized, and impactful. As genomics continues to revolutionize healthcare delivery, LetsGetChecked will remain at the forefront, empowering individuals to lead healthier lives through actionable genetic insights.

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