Precision Health and Medicine Bass Connections Team

science and medicine work together

GCB partnered with the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine (CAGPM) and Bass Connections to form the Precision Health and Medicine Bass Connections team.

Students will be immersed in team-based experiential learning environments to research and design clinical tests to meet real-world needs of patients in the Duke Health System. The teams will provide students with rich learning experiences in the areas of precision health and medicine essential to the development and translation of new clinical tools.


Family Health History

Collecting medical history about family members is standard practice for almost every type of physician. Family health history is more valuable than many people realize. We share our genes with all of our blood relatives, and we share our environment with our immediate family. Both genes and environment can contribute to our health risks.

The Family Health History Bass Connections team will focus on expanding the utility and usefulness of the MeTree™ application. MeTree™ is a patient-facing web-based family health history-driven risk assessment application. The app is integrated into clinical practices and provides clinical decision support to patients and their primary care providers about risk levels and recommendations for risk management for 30 different conditions.

Our goals are to expand the MeTree™ platform to use with different patient populations and medical specialties in the U.S. and abroad. It is currently serving as a demonstration of a new technology called "SMART-FHIR," which permits third-party applications to integrate with electronic medical records. This interface will be the first of its kind, but additional work needs to be done to support the expansion of this application. We will explore the perception of patients and providers around family history and risk management, shared decision-making, and engagement in health care for the population as a whole or subgroups like minorities or those with low education/low literacy. We will also explore privacy issues and patient behavior around sharing family history information. Students will consider how often people share health information and how these behaviors could be used to improve family health collection.


Infectious disease is a major contributor to mortality in critically ill patients, particularly those who are immunosuppressed. The immediate post-transplant population is acutely at risk for infection, given the heavy doses of induction immunosuppression needed to maintain the graft. Lung transplant patients are particularly at risk for infection, as the transplanted organ is continuously exposed to microorganisms in the environment. Many of the pathogens that afflict lung transplant patients are highly resistant organisms, although resistance patterns are difficult to predict and require time-consuming confirmation by culture and anti-microbial drug testing. Additionally, many of these organisms are fastidious and cannot be cultured or tested for by standard means. As a tertiary care institution, we currently send many patient samples to outside laboratories to test for specific organisms. This delays diagnosis and adds significant complexity to the care of critically ill patients when hours matter.

The goals of the Burkholderia Bass Connections team are to identify genetic markers that can accurately distinguish pathogenic from benign bacteria in Burkholderia and develop a rapid and robust diagnostic assay around these markers. Our long-term goal is to provide assay results to physicians int he Duke Health System so they can tailor antimicrobial therapy for critically ill transplant patients.

Students will work to develop and optimize a PCR protocol to genotype strains from patients and conduct bioinformatics analyses of sequence data from Burkholderia  strains.

Related Links

Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine
Bass Connections
2017-2018 Bass Connections Project: Blue Devil Resistome


Susanne Haga, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Director of Education
(919) 684-0325