Rady Children's unveils state-funded whole genome sequencing program for newborns

Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego launched Project Baby Bear, the first state-funded program in California to offer rapid whole genome sequencing for newborns who are critically ill.

The $2 million pilot program will enable Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine to offer rapid whole genome sequencing as a first-line diagnostic test for babies at four participating hospitals in California.

Rady Children's has used whole genome sequencing in clinical trials to diagnose children and infants with rare diseases since July 2016. The institute had sequenced nearly 1,200 children from July 2016 through Sept. 20.

Until Project Baby Bear, whole genome sequencing was not supported by insurance or Medi-Cal. The state will now fund Project Baby Bear via Medi-Cal.

"We are honored to be selected as the first California children's hospital to use the Medi-Cal platform to deliver access to this life-changing test to children who need it, regardless of their family's ability to pay," said Donald Kearns, MD, president and CEO of Rady Children's.

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