Genomics education and awareness program growing across Georgia

Last September marked the end of a three-year grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that created the Georgia Breast Cancer Genomic Health Consortium. Spearheaded by Georgia CORE in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the consortium sought to reduce cancer disparities among high-risk minority women. Though the grant cycle has ended, the work continues with outreach efforts to not just high-risk minority women, but also underserved and underinsured women. Through genetic screening, counseling, testing and education, the program targets young women with an increased risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome, with a goal to educate the healthcare community as a whole.

“In addition to seeing thousands of underserved and underinsured patients all over Georgia, we have built relationships with genetic professionals that will help us continue to build awareness of the importance of genetic information,” said Georgia CORE’s genetics specialist, Alice Kerber, MN, APRN, ACNS-BC, AOCN, APNG.

Through additional grants and the Breast Cancer License Tag Genetic Testing Fund that was established by Georgia CORE more than a year ago, the genomics program provides education and collects surveillance data using the breast cancer genetics referral-screening tool (B-RST™) available at This HBOC educational protocol has been presented to 91 staff across Georgia in nine public health centers, two federally qualified health centers and one community center. Staff use B-RST™ during the collection of medical history, and then further family history assessments and testing for mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes are facilitated when appropriate.

“The introduction of genomics in public health departments and community centers has provided access to comprehensive cancer care for many patients,” said Kerber. “The successful implementation of B-RST™ at these centers also demonstrates the opportunity for integration of HBOC screening into primary care practices.”

From November 2012 through February 2015, more than 8748 individuals have been screened. 5553 have been from the public health centers and partner sites. “Of these women, we know of at least one client who did end up being diagnosed with cancer, proving that this process can facilitate early detection.”

An application for financial support for HBOC testing for the underserved or underinsured through the Georgia Breast Cancer License Tag fund is available online and requires that the submission be completed by a genetic services provider as defined under Commission on Cancer Standard 2.3. For more information or to access the application, visit