NIH funds additional medical centers for precision medicine research program
The NIH has announced awards to add four regional medical center groups to the national network of healthcare provider organizations (HPOs) that will implement the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. Combined, the new HPOs will receive initial funds of $5.5 million to begin recruitment and build infrastructure. As efforts advance, the centers may receive first-year funds up to a total of $16 million. The four HPOs join awardees announced earlier this year, to enroll interested individuals, gather participants’ health information and biospecimens and provide input on developing plans for the program.
The PMI Cohort Program is a landmark longitudinal research effort that aims to engage 1 million or more U.S. participants to enable research that will, over time, improve the ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics. Participants will be invited to contribute a range of data about themselves by completing questionnaires, granting access to their electronic health records, providing blood and urine samples, undergoing a physical evaluation and sharing real-time information via smartphones or wearable devices. Data collected will be protected by privacy and security safeguards. A primary goal of the PMI Cohort Program is to create a national resource for researchers, including citizen scientists, to help answer important questions about a variety of health conditions. When the program opens for enrollment, people may sign up through a participating HPO, or directly using the program website, smartphone application or call center.
The awardees are:
- California Precision Medicine Consortium: University of California San Diego, with partners Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; San Diego Blood Bank; University of California, Davis; University of California Health; University of California, Irvine; University of California, San Francisco; and University of Southern California, Los Angeles
- Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania
- New England Precision Medicine Consortium: Partners HealthCare System and its hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with Boston University and Boston Medical Center
- Trans-American Consortium for the Health Care Systems Research Network: Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, with partners Baylor Scott and White Research Institute, Dallas; Essentia Health, Duluth, Minnesota; Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
“We want this program to be open to everyone across the United States,” said Eric Dishman, director of the PMI Cohort Program. “These additional health care provider organizations will help us in our efforts to reach communities that have been underrepresented in research. By contributing their information, these communities will help people and their health care providers identify the right prevention strategies or treatments. With the PMI Cohort Program, we’re making a concerted effort to include people from all communities and walks of life, to make sure that the knowledge we gain benefits everyone.”
Beyond extending the program’s geographic reach, the new set of awardees have expertise in engaging racial and ethnic minority populations who have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research. The HPOs are also well positioned to enroll over time populations that are often unable to take part in research, such as those with mental illnesses, substance abuse problems, developmental delays and cognitive impairments.