The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine awarded $2.4 million to two demonstration projects selected by a panel of experts in the areas of pediatric cancer and infectious disease. The initiative was hosted by the University of California, San Francisco in collaboration with UC Health.
The California Initiative aims to integrate clinical data with genomic, environmental, socioeconomic, mobile, and other data from patients to help scientists determine disease mechanisms and develop precise therapies.
The first project will help clinicians to access a large pool of adult and pediatric cancer datasets as well as tools to sort through the information. Patients, advocates, clinicians, and researchers will also be able to upload, analyze, and share genomic information and associated data through MedBook. It is an online platform that links patients, biopsy samples, doctors, and researchers in a social network framework.
The project includes investigators from UC Irvine, UCSF and Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. It also includes industry partners such as NuMedii, Cisco Systems, and DNAnexus.
The second project, led by Charles Chiu, an associate professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, aims to use genetic sequencing to diagnose patients hospitalized with acute and potentially life-threatening infectious diseases.
Chiu's lab has developed a sequencing approach to detect viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites with a single test. This can be used to diagnose infections in a number of patients. The funds from the initiative will be used to validate the test at three UC medical centers in patients with encephalitis, meningitis, sepsis, or pneumonia. Genetic data from the tests will be integrated into patients' medical records, and a consult team will be available to interpret results and guide treatment.
Chiu's team includes investigators from UCSF, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and UCLA, and from private companies including Syapse, DNAnexus, Quest Diagnostics, and Google Genomics.
"Both of these projects are developing exciting new tools that promise to deliver precision medicine tests and therapies to patients within a very short timeframe, as quickly as 18 months to two years. We hope the success of these first two projects will inspire others to support this initiative, so we can fund additional promising precision medicine projects to help patients," said Atul Butte, the director of UCSF's Institute for Computational Health Sciences and head of the precision medicine initiative.