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IU's New Personalized Medicine Institute to Focus on Translational Research

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Indiana University announced earlier this month that it create an Institute for Personalized Medicine that will focus on translational research with guidance from a multidisciplinary external advisory body.

"The institute’s mission is to conduct research, train new specialists in personalized medicine, and promote the translation of scientific discoveries into new more precise therapeutics for patient care," IU said in a statement.

The $11.25 million that will support the development of the new institute is coming from multiple donors: IU's School of Medicine, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the Indiana Physician Scientist Initiative (funded by a $60 million grant from the Lilly Endowment); and the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer.

The institute will also offer the Brater Scholarship in Personalized Medicine, which will fund the research of "young physicians" in medical fellowship training programs at IU's school of medicine. The first three recipients of this scholarship will be announced this summer.

The personalized medicine institute’s faculty will be recruited from the university's own schools of medicine, informatics, and nursing. David Flockhart, professor of cancer epidemiology and genetics and director of the division of clinical pharmacology at IU, will direct the new institute.

The institute's associated directors will be: Lang Li, associate professor of medical and molecular genetics and associate director of the IU Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics; Jamie Renbarger, assistant professor of pediatrics, of medicine, and of obstetrics and gynecology; and Bryan Schneider, assistant professor of medicine and of medical and molecular genetics.

The institute will prioritize its initiatives with the help of an external advisory board of personalized medicine experts from academia, industry, and government.

The board will be chaired by Wade Clapp, chairman of IU's Department of Pediatrics, and will include five members: Caryn Lerman, professor of psychiatry and interim director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania; Dan Roden, assistant vice chancellor for personalized medicine at Vanderbilt University; Robert Epstein, president of advanced clinical science and research at Medco Health Solutions; Shiew-Mei Huang, deputy director of the Office of Clinical Pharmacology at the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research; and Russ Altman, chairman of Stanford University's bioengineering department.

IU has been conducting personalized medicine research for a decade, but by creating the new institute, it is hoping to "jump-start research and raise the level of participation of an institution in both the laboratory and in the clinic, in a broad range of research interests,” Flockhart said in a statement.

Janet Carpenter, professor in the School of Nursing and a member of the institute, suggested that personalized medicine research can be used to improve treatments for conditions that affect a large portion of the population, such as menopause. “About 6,000 American women enter menopause every day, yet personalized medicine has not been well-integrated into their health care,” Carpenter said. “The institute will play a very important role in ensuring that women receive the most appropriate and effective menopausal symptom management therapies.”

Other research focus areas, according to the institute's website, include pharmacogenomics, pediatrics, modeling, cancer, HIV, pregnancy, cardiovascular diseases, imaging, and computational biology and bioinformatics. The website also includes a list of drugs for which there are pharmacogenomic tests to gauge best responders.

Other resources and centers at the university that will be involved in the personalized medicine institute's activities include the Indiana Biobank, which contains 50,000 annotated samples linked to electronic medical records and genomic and proteomic data; the Center for Bioethics; the Cancer Center; and the Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. The Clinical Pharmacology Analytical Core is also available to IU's internal researchers and external partners who require research support.

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