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Huntington F. Willard appointed to lead national expansion

DANVILLE, Pa. – As part of its strategy to expand its successful precision health program on a national level, Geisinger announced the launch of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative and the appointment of Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., as its first director.

The new Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative, based in the Washington, D.C., area, will provide increased national exposure for the Geisinger model of integrating genomics and data science into precision healthcare, as well as for launching new strategic partnerships and ventures to extend the Geisinger model on the national scene.  This program will leverage the extensive advances of the MyCode Community Health Initiative and electronic health data integration at Geisinger.

To accelerate innovation in the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative, Willard will launch a new Precision Health Innovation Lab, leveraging discoveries and advances in genomics and data science throughout Geisinger. 

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Geisinger family. I know of no other health system with such dedication to putting patients and their health first,” Willard said. “I look forward to launching new programs committed to broadening Geisinger’s impact in precision health on a national scale.”

Willard is an internationally recognized leader in human genetics and genomics, with a long record of innovative, integrative, and forward-looking leadership in both academia and healthcare.  He is a former President of the American Society of Human Genetics, founding director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (2003-2014), and the 15th President of the Marine Biological Laboratory (2015-2017).  In addition to an extensive list of over 300 research publications, Willard is co-editor of the first textbook on precision medicine titled “Genomic & Precision Medicine,” now in its third edition. 

“The addition of Hunt Willard to our already outstanding genomics and precision health team at Geisinger allows us to ‘double-down’ on our bet on this game-changing approach to anticipatory medicine – preventing early-onset cancer, cardiovascular events, and other diseases, and keeping people out of hospitals. We are already seeing this benefit to our patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and are eager to extend this program nationally,” said David T. Feinberg, M.D., MBA, Geisinger president & CEO. 

“Hunt Willard has built world-class genomics and precision health programs at several academic institutions and we look forward to his greatly enhancing our ability to rapidly expand the Geisinger model for precision health on a national scale” said David H. Ledbetter, Ph.D., Geisinger executive vice president & chief scientific officer. 

An elected member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, Willard will be professor of precision health and associate chief scientific officer at Geisinger, as well as director of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative.

He has been chair of the Geisinger Scientific Advisory Board since 2011 and was an influential part of the most recent Geisinger strategic plan released in 2014.  He will join Geisinger officially in January 2018.

 

About Geisinger
One of the nation’s most innovative health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Geisinger is known for its focus on caring and innovative programs including the ProvenCare® best-practice approach to maximize quality, safety and value; ProvenHealth Navigator® advanced medical home; Springboard Health® population health program to improve the health of an entire community; ProvenExperience™ to provide refunds to patients unhappy with their care experience; and Geisinger’s MyCode® Community Health Initiative, the largest healthcare system-based precision health project in the world. With more than 215,000 volunteer participants enrolled, MyCode is conducting extensive research and returning medically actionable results to participants. A physician-led organization, with approximately 32,000 employees and more than 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger leverages an estimated $12.7 billion positive annual impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Repeatedly recognized nationally for integration, quality and service, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to patient care, medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Dr. Huntington F. Willard
Director of the Geisinger National Precision Health Initiative Dr. Huntington F. Willard