Interview with Dr. Dunnenberger of NorthShore University HealthSystem

Dr. Dunnenberger is Director of Pharmacogenomics in the Center for Molecular Medicine at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore), and leads the various clinical pharmacogenomics implementation projects within the Center for Personalized Medicine. The goal of these projects is to improve the care and health outcomes of NorthShore University HealthSystem patients through pharmacogenomics-based strategies. He joined NorthShore in 2014. Dr. Dunnenberger leads the Pharmacogenomics Clinic, which serves as part of a system-wide initiative building upon the health system’s strong foundation in genetics and molecular medicine. Read his full bio.

PMWC 2018 Michigan taking place June 6-7, 2018.

Q&A with Mark Dunnenberger


Q: What patient population is NorthShore University HealthSystem serving and which services are you specializing in?

A: NorthShore is a four hospital community health system with over 100 outpatient medical offices. My program is focused on how to bring pharmacogenomics to any patient at NorthShore. This includes one of the first dedicated pharmacogenomics clinic in the country.

Q: What makes your healthcare service unique?

A: We provide a custom designed multigene pharmacogenomics panel and robust multimodal clinical decision support (CDS) tools for the implementation of pharmacogenomics. Based on our program, any NorthShore provider can order our pharmacogenomics panel on their patient. The test is completed conveniently in the home of the patient. The results are delivered to the patient and provider via the EHR with the support of the CDS tools. The clinic is available if additional support is needed. This system allows for pharmacogenomics test results to continue to deliver value for the rest of patient’s life and for their interpretations to be updated when new knowledge is available.

Q: What is your role at NorthShore University HealthSystem and what excites you about your work?

A: I’m the Director of Pharmacogenomics which is a part of the Center of Personalized Medicine. Many things excite me about my role. I enjoy being on the cutting edge of medicine and leading a group of brilliant people through a journey of ground breaking clinical implementation. What most excites me is knowing that we are improving patient lives through better pharmacotherapy outcomes across the entire system using pharmacogenomics. Through our pharmacogenomics program my team and I are able to make relatively small changes with huge impact on individuals health care.

Q: When thinking about the field you are working in, what are some recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: The decreasing cost of testing is an important driver, as well as widespread adoption of the EHR. But the most important breakthrough is a shift to consumer driven healthcare. This allows the true owners of the data be the drivers for its use in clinical practice. Patients can now be empowered utilizing their genomic results through the fragmented health care system. Where previously we would have relied on the system to move that data, which does not work.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that NorthShore University HealthSystem and its peers are facing?

A: How to best deliver genetic results to patients and providers to ensure they understand the complete meaning and impact of the result. Additionally, reimbursement for genomic based service can be challenging.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: Clinical genetics and specifically pharmacogenomics will only succeed if it is integrated into routine care and workflows. Collaboration is key to the success for clinical implementation.