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Pitt/UPMC Institute for Precision Medicine Receives $2.8 Million to Advance Genomics Research Initiatives

July 5, 2019

The Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM) at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC received a three-year $2.8 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for implementation of precision medicine initiatives, including whole genome sequencing of critically ill infants, genomics education and translational research pilot projects intended for commercialization. 

The IPM, a joint effort of Pitt and UPMC, was created in 2013 to help researchers and clinicians discover features about an individual’s risk of disease, select best treatments and predict treatment response, and move these insights into clinical practice.   

“UPMC and Pitt are regional and national leaders in developing and implementing precision medicine efforts in the clinic,” said Adrian Lee, PhD, director of the IPM and professor of pharmacology & chemical biology at Pitt. “This grant will advance research and clinical care, and also help drive the field forward by commercializing technologies that have the potential to impact people at scale.” 
The grant will support three major initiatives: 

Genome sequencing for critically ill infants – Approximately 2-3% of children are born with genetic abnormalities. Studies have shown the benefits of rapid genome sequencing to quickly diagnose genetic defects in decreasing infant mortality and the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) stays, as well as positive long-term health and economic outcomes. The recently established UPMC Genome Center will sequence the genomes of 100 children receiving care at NICUs at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC Magee Women’s Hospital.

Genomics education and training for health care providers – Rapid evolution in the field of genomics has outpaced medical education, resulting in a knowledge gap among front-line health care practitioners. Building upon the award-winning Test2LearnTM platform developed by Pitt and UPMC experts, the grants will develop additional training modules and educate 140 front-line providers on how to evaluate and interpret whole genome sequencing based clinical tests.

Translating precision medicine research to market – In partnership with sciVelo at the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute, the IPM will identify, fund and chaperone translational research pilot projects with a focus on precision medicine. The Innovation Institute’s commercialization team of licensing managers and executives-in-residence will advance the developed projects toward intellectual property protection, licensing and new company creation.