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Hospital for Special Surgery to Launch Genomics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City will use a new $5.6 million grant to launch a center that will focus on using genomic medicine to study and develop new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus, HSS said today.

The hospital received the award from the Tow Foundation to establish the HSS Genomics Center, which will conduct investigations aimed at understanding the regulation and function of proteins involved in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and to identify genes linked to these diseases.

HSS plans to recruit an estimated 20 scientists to staff the center, including four postdoctoral fellows in genomics, a computational biologist, and a senior genomics researcher.

HSS is an associate founding member of the New York Genome Center, and researchers at its planned genome center will collaborate with NYGC partners in its investigations. HSS and NYGC also have plans to host biennial international research symposia that will be titled Genomics of Autoimmune Diseases.

The HSS Genomics Center investigators seek to use genomic and epigenetic knowledge to develop better treatments for these diseases that have fewer side effects than current options, and they plan to be testing these new therapeutics in animal models by the fourth year of the funding.

"We are very excited to try to understand how genes involved in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are regulated, because it would represent a new way to drive therapy. It is called epigenetic therapy, meaning therapy targeted around how the environment controls gene expression and thus the environmental causes of disease," Lionel Ivashkiv, who is CSO at HSS and will direct the new center, said in a statement.

HSS also said it expects that much of the Genomics Center's future research will be based on whole-genome sequencing.

"This part of the research will be more prognostic, looking at the genetic makeup of an individual and potentially making predictions about disease prognosis and, equally important, trying to find which treatments might work the best for them," Ivashkiv said. "That is a very complex undertaking, but we think that would also have a very big impact on improving patient's lives."