ACE Benefit to Advance Personalized Medicine

Debbie Kerr, Co-Chair of ACE

Debbie Kerr, a volunteer and patient at NorthShore, recently took a simple cheek swab test in her home that revealed she was taking appropriate medications to manage her existing migraines and high blood pressure. Results from her DNA swab sample will also help her clinicians determine which medications to use should she need treatment for her 2012 diagnosis of early stage leukemia.

Kerr is Co-Chair of The Auxiliary’s American Craft Exposition (ACE), considered one of the top craft shows in the country. The proceeds from the September 23–25 event, which will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, will benefit the growth of NorthShores Pharmacogenomics Clinic, the first and largest in Chicagoland. The Clinic provides genetic testing to help predict how patients, just like Kerr, will respond to certain medications.

“This testing helps patients get the right medication, at the right dose, at the right time,” said Kerr, who is understandably eager for the support that will come from the ACE benefit. 

Please click the video above to hear Debbie's story, and learn more about ACE, and NorthShore’s expertise in personalized medicine. For ACE ticket details, please visit:

Mark Dunnenberger, PharmD, Senior Clinical Specialist Pharmacogenomics, NorthShore Center for Personalized Medicine, believes that personalized medicine is the “next generation” of medicine, an approach that will not only treat disease, but also predict and potentially prevent many diseases. Here he defines pharmacogenomics and explains how it stands to make a revolutionary impact on patient treatment and outcomes.

Q: What is pharmacogenomics?
A: Pharmacogenomics is the study of how differences in DNA affect response to medications. These differences in DNA can help explain why two otherwise similar patients can receive the same medication at the same dose for the same indication and have different responses. The medication may work well for one patient, while the other patient may receive no benefit or experience side effects. By analyzing genetic variation, we can predict who is more likely to experience these undesirable outcomes. NorthShore’s Pharmacogenomics Clinic was the first in the Chicago area, launching in March of 2015. There are only a handful of clinics in the country.

Q: How can it help patients? How does it change treatment for diseases like cancer?
A: If we know a patient’s genotype when a medication is prescribed to them, we are able to make a more informed decision to treat patients with the conventional dose, alter the dose or choose a different medication altogether. These actions will reduce the risk that a patient will experience a negative drug-related outcome. This all leads to a safer, more effective treatment for each individual. It can be paraphrased as: The right drug, at the right dose, for the right patient, the first time.

What is the role of pharmacogenomics in the NorthShore Center for Personalized Medicine?
A: Personalized medicine is the next step in the evolution of medicine. It can be thought of as the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics, needs and preferences of a patient during all stages of care, from prevention and diagnosis, to treatment and follow-up. NorthShore is instituting personalized medicine through the Center for Personalized Medicine. This Center brings together clinical, research and bioinformatics genomics experts from across the health system.

Q: What’s next for pharmacogenomics?
A: Pharmacogenomics is advancing in numerous ways. First, we are learning more about differences in DNA, known as variants, which have an effect on drug therapy. This will increase the number of drug/gene pairs we can implement in clinical care. Second, we are figuring out which patient populations will benefit the most from pharmacogenomics-based interventions. Third, we are discovering the best ways to deliver pharmacogenomics data to all practitioners.

Q: What do you hope you’ll be able to do in the future?
A: The Clinic has seen high patient traffic and has been able to return actionable results to our patients. NorthShore is implementing a direct access component, with clinical decision-support tools in our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system provider, Epic. Using this new service will allow physicians to check a patient’s prescription against their genetic information. Clinicians, system-wide, will receive alerts about potential adverse reaction, drug efficacy or dosing based on that patient’s genetic profile.

Find out more about the NorthShore Center for Personalized Medicine by clicking here. To learn more about ACE or to purchase tickets, please visit

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