CUHK and US Experts Collaborate to Provide Clinical Genetic Training to Set up The Territory's First One-Stop Outpatient Genetic Clinic
With the rapid development of genetics and genomics, more diseases are now recognized to have a genetic basis, including the traditional Mendelian diseases, congenital malformations, autism, cancers, degenerative disorders, and metabolic dysfunction. The demand for genetic screening and diagnosis has extended from postnatal period to prenatal period, posing a challenge for prenatal diagnosis. To strengthen the training of clinical geneticists, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today (14 September) with The Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in the United States for collaboration to provide clinical genetic training. The territory's first outpatient genetic clinic has also been set up to provide one-stop diagnosis and consultation services.
According to the expert review commissioned by Hospital Authority (HA) in early 2012, it is anticipated that the demand for genetic services would increase in future. The existing clinical genetic service has been overloaded due to the shortage of qualified geneticists. It is therefore imperative to train more experienced clinical geneticists to support the development of medical genetic services in Hong Kong.
In response to the review report, CUHK and BCM experts collaborate to strengthen the training of clinical geneticists. BCM expertise will regularly visit Hong Kong to conduct seminars and clinical training. The territory's first outpatient genetic clinic at the Prince of Wales Hospital has also been set up to provide one-stop diagnosis and consultation services, including genetic counseling, risk assessment and genetic and genomic testing. The scope of services includes congenital malformation, growth disorders, recurrent abortion and any diseases associated with genetic defects, such as autism and neurodevelopmental delay. For appointment or enquiry on the clinic services, please call 3505-6412.
The Department of Molecular and Human Genetics of BCM is the world's leader in the field of medical genetics and genomics, especially in the use of array Comparative Genomic Hybridisation (aCGH) and exon sequencing in diagnosis. Under Professor Arthur Beaudet's leadership, BCM provides comprehensive training in genetics and high quality clinical genetic services. CUHK has also achieved remarkable achievements in prenatal diagnosis using aCGH and is the first to use this technology in clinical services in Hong Kong.
In conclusion, CUHK agrees that the Government and HA should allocate more resources in the development and training of clinical geneticists. It also suggests the government to set up practicing standards, accreditation systems and statutory registration bodies to ensure the quality of clinical and laboratory genetic services for the local community.