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A New CDC Home for the U.S. Surgeon General's Family Health History Tool

On Thanksgiving Day 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General launched a national public health campaign called the U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative. The campaign quickly became a yearly event to raise public awareness about the importance of family health history, and encourage all families to learn more about their health histories. The initiative also launched My Family Health Portrait, a downloadable tool to complete a family health history on a personal computer that was developed by CDC, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and other partners.

My Family Health Portrait

For more than a decade the My Family Health Portrait tool has been hosted by NHGRI. The tool has been an important part of public education campaigns about family health history, and has been downloaded and used by users in the United States and around the world. Family health history is important to our own health and can help us detect and manage personal disease risks, or find the right diagnosis and treatments when we have a certain disease. In addition to clinical practice use, family health history has become an important component of public health systems that screens for and serves populations at higher than average risk for disease, such as cancer and heart disease.

CDC, NHGRI, and other partners have a keen interest in applying family health history in public health programs, and have developed and tested the use of family history in primary care. Our ongoing collaborative efforts culminate each year in the celebration of Thanksgiving Day as Family Health History Day.

Starting September 6, 2018, My Family Health Portrait has a new home, the CDC Public Health Genomics Knowledge Base (PHGKB). CDC's Office of Public Health Genomics developed PHGKB as a suite of searchable databases, tools and resources to facilitate translation and implementation of genomics in clinical and public health programs. Our users have become accustomed to the ever increasing number of interconnected resources that are regularly curated, updated with friendly displays, and customized search strategies and databases.

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The tool will move, but its essence and core capabilities will remain the same.

What does this transition mean to the tool itself and the end users? The good news is not much! The tool will continue to be known as the Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait, and while the web location of the tool will change to CDC servers, its essence and core capabilities will remain the same. The usual CDC disclaimers have been added to the tool website, and the website now has CDC logos on its opening page. We've changed the language on the web pages to reflect the transition to CDC, what users can do if they have questions, or need help in using the tool. Any future developments or changes to the tool will be done in consultation with NHGRI and other federal partners, just as our trans-agency collaboration has evolved the tool together since its launch.

NHGRI and CDC are committed to continuing collaborations with other partners to raise public awareness and promote use of family health history to inform public and individual health, not only around Thanksgiving's Day, but throughout the year.

Please go to the My Family Health Portrait's new home and discover-or rediscover-how you can collect and update your family health information. It could prove life-changing to your own health! If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please submit them here.

By Muin J. Khoury, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Laura Lyman Rodriguez, Division of Policy, Communications and Education, National Human Genome Research Institute

Last updated: January 15, 2019