Healthy Nevada Project Brings in Research to Better Understand Liver Disease

By July 16, 2019 Press Release

Renown Institute for Health Innovation Announces Strategic Collaboration to Advance Understanding of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

Renown Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) announced a strategic collaboration to determine if there is a link between liver disease and genetics, improving the understanding of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) through the collection and analysis of genetic data.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects 30-40 percent of adults in the United States, and NASH, a type of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, currently has no medicine approved to treat it. People with NASH have an increased chance of dying from liver-related causes. 

“To understand complicated diseases like NASH, we need large cohorts,” said Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., associate research professor at DRI, principal investigator of the Healthy Nevada Project and chief scientific officer for Renown Health. “The Healthy Nevada Project is able to provide this cohort, which will significantly benefit the patient population in Nevada and meet our goal of improving health in our state which ranks near the bottom.”

To make this research possible, this new partner will provide funding to Renown IHI for the Healthy Nevada Project to sequence and analyze the DNA of 15,000 patients living with NASH or NAFLD, as well as a control cohort of 40,000 individuals in Nevada. This collaboration will leverage genetic data and electronic health records to further the understanding of NASH and to inform the future development of treatment options for the disease.

“We have the tools, ample technology and science to make this a reality,” said Tony Slonim, MD, Dr.PH, FACHE, president and CEO of Renown. “Combining genetic sequencing with large sets of data can play a critical role in understanding and identifying serious health risks, including diseases like NASH. We are excited to collaborate with a new partner to better understand the condition and its complexities. Any genetic variants identified in individuals through the collaboration will be shared with the participants to help guide their own health decisions.”

With nearly 40,000 study participants enrolled in just over two years, the Healthy Nevada Project has become the fastest-enrolling genetic study in the country. The Project was created by Renown IHI – a collaboration between Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). The Project has already been returning clinical results to study participants, notifying them of their risk for CDC Tier 1 conditions including familial hypercholesterolemia, hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome, and Lynch syndrome, a precursor to colon cancer.