Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Precision Medicine News

Academia Dives into Precision Medicine, Big Data Collaborations

Collaboration is the name of the game for precision medicine researchers as the growing need for seamless big data draws organizations closer together.

Precision medicine and big data collaborations

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Precision medicine and big data research partnerships are proliferating in academia as teaching hospitals, university researchers, health IT vendors, and dedicated laboratories combine forces to tackle cancer, genetic diseases, and chronic conditions.

Collaborations have become essential for pooling enough resources to advance the science of precision medicine. 

From sharing supercomputing processing power to harnessing diverse expertise from multidisciplinary researchers, the “all of us” mentality goes far beyond the new slogan for the NIH’s million-patient biobank.

As personalized medicine advances and access to big data for medical research becomes easier, academic organizations are leading the way towards fewer administrative, technical, and clinical barriers to delivering highly targeted care.

University of Michigan launches campus-wide precision medicine initiative

Biomedical researchers will work with big data analysts and social scientists to develop new methods for integrating socioeconomic, Internet of Things, and patient-generated health data into precision medicine approaches to care.

READ MORE: Precision Medicine, Big Data Partnerships Will Enhance Treatment

With the opioid crisis as an initial focus, researchers at U-M will integrate genetics, social determinants of health, and clinical factors to identify risks for addiction and dependence.

“The University of Michigan is perfectly positioned to be a global leader in precision health because of our spectacular breadth and collaborative ethos,” said University President President Mark Schlissel.

“We have faculty excellence across all the related disciplines, and schools, colleges, institutes and departments that are already leading the way in discovery and education related to society’s biggest problems.”

Researchers from the university’s schools of public health, engineering, and medicine will spearhead the project, which aims to develop tailored guidelines for pain management based on an individual patient’s needs.

LSU Health New Orleans, Moffitt Cancer Center receive $2 million grant

Louisiana State University and the Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida have received a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute aimed at supporting research into disparities in cancer care.

READ MORE: Precision Medicine, Big Data Analytics Intersect for Better Care

"Louisiana cancer mortality is among the worst in the nation, and many of these cancers are diagnosed in understudied, underserved patients," said Lucio Miele, MD, PhD, Director of the Precision Medicine Program at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine and co-principle investigator.

"Precision medicine is making tremendous advances in tailoring cancer treatment and prevention measures to specific molecular cancer subtypes. However, the patients who are most affected by cancer are often the ones with the least access to precision medicine studies. This leaves a huge gap in our understanding of how to plan cancer prevention and care, and risks worsening existing health disparities."

The collaboration will take a patient-centered approach to identifying disparities and recruiting individuals with rare conditions for innovative clinical trials.

"There is an acute need for investigators who will carry the torch into the future, investigate cancer health disparities and share their results with stakeholder communities,” said Miele.

“This partnership's goal is to address both these needs, by carrying on ground-breaking research on patient-derived cancers, as opposed to laboratory models, and by training students and junior investigators in how to rigorously and ethically conduct such research, as well as how to communicate its results to the community."

Indiana University, Regenstreif Institute, and LifeOmic to share research, ownership

READ MORE: Precision Medicine Must Be a “Team Effort,” White House Says

Indiana University (IU) and the Regenstreif Institute have partnered with technology company LifeOmic to allow the vendor blanket license to leverage the organizations’ intellectual property.

In return for access to IU and Regenstreif’s faculty and research, the academic organizations will receive a minority ownership stake in LifeOmic’s operations.

“Indiana University’s expertise in precision health research, combined with the Regenstrief Institute’s long history of innovation in medical records data and LifeOmic’s impressive capabilities in genomic data storage and management, make for a powerful partnership that will help our institutions collaborate to improve health in Indiana and beyond,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie, PhD.

“We look forward to seeing the discoveries that will stem from this alliance of academia and industry.”

The three entities will collaborate to accelerate development of a single “data commons” for precision medicine research, which will eventually include genetic and clinical profiles of millions of patients.

“The problems and challenges we are facing in health care today are too big to be solved by any one institution,” said Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, IU associate vice president of research for university clinical affairs and executive associate dean for research affairs at IU School of Medicine.

“To make progress, we must collaborate with other universities and with private industry across multiple fields. My vision is to forge more industry partnerships like this with minimal bureaucratic barriers to collaborations, so we can tap into the expertise we need to serve patients in Indiana and elsewhere.”

NorthShore University HealthSystem, Ambry Genetics team up to expand genetic testing

Illinois’ NorthShore University HealthSystem and testing lab Ambry Genetics are aiming to provide whole exome sequencing to 10,000 patients to supplement a large-scale precision medicine study.

NorthShore’s Genomic Health Initiative (GHI) will combine electronic health record data with genomic testing results to pinpoint risk factors for the development of certain diseases.

"We are very excited to partner with Ambry Genetics," says Michael Caplan, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, NorthShore University HealthSystem. "This collaboration will help advance healthcare and equip clinicians caring for a patient with the most precise, up-to-date treatment information."

The project will help clinicians accurately refer patients to specialists or subspecialists within the care network, and will expand the use of genetic risk scoring to help providers take a proactive approach to patient care.

"Preventing and managing disease through scientific excellence and high-quality care is the cornerstone of this partnership," said Dr. Aaron Elliott, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Ambry Genetics. "NorthShore and Ambry share the same patient-first philosophy and focus on scientific innovation to improve the future of healthcare."

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