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Strides in Genomics

Strides in Genomics

What strides have doctors in our area made in this field?

Airs Thursday, February 25th at 8pm on WVIA TV

Genes. Each cell in our bodies carries tens of thousands of genes, each one a building block of who we are. While the study of genetics focuses on inheritance, the emerging field of genomics seeks to use the information in an individual’s genes as part of their healthcare.

Doctors and scientists practicing genomic medicine hope a personalized approach to treatment based on the genetic makeup of a person can improve treatment of disease and even help prevent or detect genetic conditions at earlier, more treatable stages. 

Cancers in particular can be detected and treated through genomic methods. According to the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute’s 2020 Cancer Surveillance Report, the counties that make up Northeast Pennsylvania continue to have a statistically higher rate of cases of lung and tobacco related cancers than the rest of the United States. They estimate nearly 10,000 individuals are diagnosed with cancer each year in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Local work can address local issues. Geisinger’s MyCode program gives patients the opportunity to participate by providing their genetic data to aid in research that can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Thousands of genes in every cell, and for genomic scientists, thousands of chances to treat or prevent disease. 


Christa Martin
Professor of Biology, Bucknell University

Leocadia Paliulus
Interim Chief Scientific Officer, Geisinger

Marylyn D. Ritchie
Professor of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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About the Show

Healthcare is constantly changing as technology finds new and better ways to help people live longer, healthier lives. Host Tonyehn Verkitus will address the issues that are important to the people in our community, including the ongoing pandemic, concerns about vaccines, food deserts, childhood trauma and child abuse, mental health, environmental issues, and the rising cost of staying healthy with leaders and experts who are positively moving the needle in our region. Tonyehn's work as the Executive Director of the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Medical Societies, a wholistic life coach, and founding member of the Africa Community Exchange will help her educate the community on health and food, community activism, and healing through self-care.

About the Host

Tonyehn Verkitus

Tonyehn Verkitus is the Executive Director of the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Medical Societies. Her work in the nonprofit world has mostly centered on health and food though she also spent many years training organizations and communities on fundraising and telling their mission-based stories.

In 2007, Tonyehn along with other family members and friends started Africa Community Exchange, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support an effective model of education for youth and educators. Currently their work centers in Liberia with plans to expand to neighboring countries. Tonyehn also sits on the boards of the Lackawanna County Arts, Culture and Education Department; WVIA Community Advisory Board; and leads professional education programs for the Luzerne County Opioid Task Force through the District Attorney’s Office.

As a Wholistic Life Coach and writer, Tonyehn is interested in the intersection between personal stories and community activism. As a person with many personal stories that shatter and empower she has developed and facilitated workshops on healing and reducing personal trauma through self-care and shared stories.

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