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NGS Leaders Blog

2011 Pulitzer Prize For Clinical Genome Story

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Davies_pic April 18, 2011                  

 Kevin Davies :  In recent talks about NGS and the $1,000 genome, I’ve been quipping that the recent series of articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the inspiring tale of Nicholas Volker had “Pulitzer Prize written all over it.”

Turns out I was right. The team of journalists and photographers have deservedly won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, putting a human face on the potential clinical benefit of genomic medicine.

Volker was just 4 years old when doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin sequenced his exome in a last-gasp attempt to find the root cause of his mystery intestinal disorder that required 143 surgical procedures.

The journalists first heard about the case in 2009, not long after Volker’s physicians had decided to embark upon sequencing. They were given permission by the medical team to follow the case, which identified a mutation in a known gene, XIAP. This in turn lead to a successful bone marrow transplant. The resulting three-part multimedia story was published in December 2010: http://www.jsonline.com/dna  

The Pulitzer Prize commendation reads as follows:

“For a distinguished example of explanatory reporting that illuminates a significant and complex subject, demonstrating mastery of the subject, lucid writing and clear presentation, using any available journalistic tool including text reporting, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or any combination of those formats, in print or online or both, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000)." 

“Awarded Mark Johnson, Kathleen Gallagher, Gary Porter, Lou Saldivar and Alison Sherwood of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for their lucid examination of an epic effort to use genetic technology to save a 4-year-old boy imperiled by a mysterious disease, told with words, graphics, videos and other images.” 

As I reported in the latest issue of Bio-IT World, the Medical College of Wisconsin team, led by Howard Jacob, is now employing whole-genome sequencing for certain additional patients after in-depth review and consent. At least two health insurance companies have paid for the sequencing, according to Jacob.

I-Study: Genomic Interpretation - Who Will Pay?
During this webinar, members of the study review team present preliminary findings of the I-Study, conducted at the Harvard Medical School's 2011 Personalized Medicine Conference.
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