Alaska is the largest of the 50 states and contains approximately 16 percent of the country's landmass. Because of its size, Alaska has widely diverse geographic, climatic, and demographic characteristics, all of which affect public health.
Alaska contains roughly 586,412 square miles of land, with a population density of slightly more than one person per square mile. Unique climatic conditions affect Alaskans's health, lifestyles, and transportation. Temperatures can range from as high as 100 degrees F to lows that approach -80 degrees F. Alaska has few roads with only five of Alaska's urban centers connected by road. In many cases, travel by air is the only feasible mode of transportation.
Alaska does not have a university based medical center, cytogenetics laboratory, DNA laboratory, or pediatric clinical geneticist. There is one physician board certified in genetics and maternal-fetal medicine, whose genetics practice is limited to prenatal genetic services. A genetic counselor works with him.
The State of Alaska contracts with Oregon Health and Science University (in Portland, Oregon) for physicians who are board certified in medical and biochemical genetics. Clinics are coordinated by the clinic manager in Anchorage who works closely with our genetic counselor. Genetics clinics are held in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Newborns to adults 22 years of age are seen for diagnosis and consultation. Metabolic genetics clinics in Anchorage and Fairbanks are attended by a biochemical geneticist and metabolic nutritionist (also from Oregon Health and Science University). These clinics are for diagnosis of inborn errors of metabolism, and management of metabolic disorders.
A genetic counselor at Providence Hospital counsels patients with established diagnoses, and patients who attend Providence Hospital specialty clinics (cystic fibrosis, hematology, endocrinology and oncology). Her special interests are adult and childhood cancers (counseling and testing).
For more information about Newborn Screening and Genetic services in Alaska, please contact us.
The project is a cooperative agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Children with Special Health Needs Program, Genetic Services Branch.