SOURCE: DNA Direct

DNA Direct

DNA Direct

October 06, 2009 12:24 ET

UNC Group Honors Ms. Ryan Phelan for Her Leadership in Developing Patient-Directed Programs in Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Care

DNA Direct CEO and Founder to Receive UNC Patient-Care Award

CHAPEL HILL, NC--(Marketwire - October 6, 2009) - Ryan Phelan is this year's recipient of the Award for Patient Service from the Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ryan Phelan is CEO and founder of DNA Direct, a company that delivers guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers and payors. DNA Direct's clinical leadership team includes two medical geneticists and a national call center of Board-certified genetic counselors. The company has developed a technology platform to provide industry-leading web-based decision support solutions that enable individuals and healthcare professionals to understand the appropriateness, implications and interpretation of genetic and molecular diagnostic testing, ultimately resulting in more informed decisions.

When Phelan launched DNA Direct in 2005, she believed that genomics would transform healthcare. "My promise at that time was to start with the people we knew would benefit most, and evolve our offerings as the landscape unfolded so we began with services for consumers. By helping consumers access state-of-the-art genetic testing and interpretation, we knew we could make a difference in their healthcare."

The award also acknowledges Phelan's earlier work to empower patients with the founding of Direct Medical Knowledge (DMK) -- an extensive consumer health web site highly regarded for its unique content depth and innovative search interface. DMK developed proprietary software that enabled users to drill down through the most current medical literature and retrieve personalized health and medical information. As the founding director of Planetree, a nonprofit consumer health care organization, she helped create a national model for humanizing hospitals and a national model for providing health information to the public.

"Ms. Phelan's work has dramatically improved patient access to genetic information," said Howard McLeod, Pharm.D., director of IPIT. "Her vision to empower patients by providing them with the information about their own genetics ultimately makes these consumers more informed participants in their own health-care choices."

The incorporation of pharmacogenomics into the work of DNA Direct recognizes the increase in the use of genetics in medical practice.

The IPIT patient-service award honors a person who has made significant contributions to empowering patients and who champions patient focus in the advancement of rational drug therapy. McLeod will present the award to Phelan during a ceremony on Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. in seminar room CG222, Level G, in the newly opened North Carolina Cancer Hospital. Phelan will present a seminar entitled "Integrating Genomic Medicine into Patient Care," with a reception immediately following.

Ryan Phelan

Ryan Phelan is an entrepreneur and businesswoman -- influential in diverse fields from education and health care to software development and the equestrian industry.

Phelan's current business and focus is DNA Direct, a company that provides guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers and payors.

Phelan has been a strong consumer-health advocate for the past 25 years, having started the first medical library for consumers in 1978. As founding director of Planetree, a nonprofit consumer health-care organization, she helped create a national model for humanizing hospitals and a national model for providing health information to the public, the Planetree Resource Center.

In 1995 she founded Direct Medical Knowledge. DMK was an extensive consumer health web site highly regarded for its unique content depth and innovative search interface. DMK developed proprietary software that enabled users to drill down through the most current medical literature and retrieve personalized health and medical information. As CEO of DMK, Phelan forged alliances with major medical institutions, national health care plans, publishers, and consumer groups. In 1999 Direct Medical Knowledge was acquired by WebMD, and DMK's content became the backbone of WebMD's consumer health site.

UNC Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy

The institute was formed in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy as a collaborative effort with the School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the School of Nursing and with support from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences. Pharmacogenetics is the study of how genetic variation among individuals contributes to differences in the way people respond to medicines.

Leadership in key areas of pharmacogenomic research is fostered by the creation of contiguous office and laboratory space that bolster collaborations and enable the development of comprehensive research investigations and treatment tools. IPIT also offers the services of core facilities in molecular genomics, cellular phenotyping and bioinformatics to add to the excellent core facilities already existing at UNC.

For more information, please visit: www.ipit.unc.edu / www.dnadirect.com

Contact Information

  • Media Contacts:

    Mark Reis
    Marketing Director
    DNA Direct
    415-347-3471
    Email Contact

    David Etchison
    Director of Communications
    UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
    (919) 966-7744
    Email Contact

    Tejinder Rakhra-Burris
    Associate Director for Research
    UNC Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy
    (919) 843-1961
    Email Contact