Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Precision Medicine News

UCSF Receives $85M NIH Grant for Precision Medicine Research

The NIH continues to dole out millions of dollars in grant funding to support precision medicine research and innovation in the academic community.

By Jennifer Bresnick

- The University of California San Francisco’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) has received an $85 million funding commitment from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to advance research into precision medicine and personalized care.

Precision medicine grant funding from the NIH

The five-year grant will support the development of a precision medicine biobanking effort, as well as investigations into how healthcare organizations can leverage electronic health records to conduct research and tailor treatments to an individual patient’s needs.

“Over the past 10 years, our CTSI has been focused on accelerating research to improve health,” said Jennifer Grandis, MD, associate vice chancellor of clinical and translational research and CTSI director. “We are committed to using these valuable NIH resources to help all UCSF investigators and trainees further that goal.”

The biobanking effort will ensure that specimens collected from the community are stored and catalogued appropriately while being accessible to researchers at UCSF and beyond.

“Our overarching goal in precision medicine is to enable data-driven, mechanism-based health and healthcare for each individual,” said Scott VandenBerg, MD, PhD, a professor of pathology who is heading the biobanking initiative. “To do this, we need a richly annotated, centralized, searchable, web-based biospecimen database that can be integrated with population level and other research data, as well as with electronic health records.”

READ MORE: NIH, Pharma Orgs Launch $215M Precision Medicine, Cancer Project

Population health management programs are also on the CTSI’s agenda.  The grant money will help the organizations continue to promote public health and engage community members in research and other collaborations.  Previous projects have focused on reducing tooth decay in children, reducing consumption of sugary beverages among teenagers, and adding colon cancer screening options to flu shot clinics in the San Francisco are.

The NIH funding will help further these efforts by recruiting an increasingly diverse group of patients for precision medicine and population health research.  CTSI also aims to make the resulting data accessible to healthcare organizations and investigators who may not have advanced knowledge of data science or big data analytics.

“This technology-enabled revolution, in which measurements are being made remotely and database platforms can integrate information from many sources, is well underway, but investigators still face many hurdles,” said Mark Pletcher, MD, MPH, a UCSF professor of epidemiology and biostatistics who is leading the informatics and research innovation components of the new grant. “We want to make it easier, faster and more cost-effective for investigators at UCSF and elsewhere to use these new tools.”

UCSF isn’t the only academic research center benefitting from an outpouring of NIH funds.  The nation’s network of Clinical and Translational Science Institutes have received strong support from NIH coffers over the past few months as the federal government begins to build the foundations for the Precision Medicine Initiative.

The University of Pittsburgh recently received $62.3 million to speed up the pace of medical innovation at its CTSI, while Vanderbilt University Medical Center, will accrue a total of $71.6 million over the next five years to develop the infrastructure underpinning the million-member PMI Cohort.

READ MORE: VA Precision Medicine Databank Hits 500,000 Participants

The Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center has also received grant funding to support precision medicine and population health projects in the amount of $19 million.

This latest award brings Rochester’s NIH funding total to approximately $86 million, just about the same as UCSF. 

“Ten years ago the University of Rochester was catapulted to the forefront of the National Institutes of Health’s initiative to reengineer our nation’s biomedical research enterprise,” said Joel Seligman, president and CEO of the University of Rochester. “This award marks another important milestone in our efforts to bring together the scientific talent, the resources, and the expertise necessary to advance medicine and improve health.” 

The grant will support “bench-to-bedside” research and big data analytics aimed at applying research innovations to clinical care.

“With this $19 million federal investment, ‎we are putting the University of Rochester on the frontline of our nation’s drive to cure disease,” said US Senator Charles Schumer, who represents New York State.

READ MORE: Most Patients Eager to Join Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort

“We will take the discoveries made in Rochester's Clinical and Translational Science Institute from the laboratory and turn them into actual treatments for patients that will save lives and improve quality of life. Starting a decade ago the UR CTSI was one of only a dozen institutions to be selected for a federal Clinical and Translational Science Award, and now this new funding will ensure their work can continue over the next four years.”

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