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USF Lands $8.9M for Heart Research Center with Genomics Focus

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of South Florida has reeled in $8.9 million in new state and local support to fund the creation of the USF Heart Health Institute, a center that will focus on using genomics and personalized medicine approaches in cardiovascular care.

USF said yesterday that Governor Rick Scott has approved $6.9 million in state funding for the initial design of the new institute, and the Hillsborough County Commission has approved $2 million for equipment and space for the facility.

The institute will pursue research seeking to identify people with the highest risk for heart disease, to improve how individual genetics can help guide treatments and dosage, and to develop new therapeutics based on genetics.

"We can put into place the current known genetic signatures, and discover those that are desperately needed, with the formation of this institute at USF Health," Steve Liggett, who will take over the post of vice dean for personalized medicine at USF in June, said in a statement. "This places the State of Florida, and the Tampa Bay Area, as a leader, and not a follower, in the most advanced health care and research in the world."

"We believe that the technology developed here will herald a new day and that USF Health will be able to partner with the best industry and academic partners throughout the world to develop these new personalized and genetic approaches to health," added Stephen K. Klasko, CEO of USF Health and dean of the school's Morsani College of Medicine.

USF Health said that it has now committed a total of $25 million for genomics and personalized medicine, including the purchase of research equipment and the recruitment of Liggett and Leslie Miller as chair of the department of cardiovascular sciences.

USF also said the Heart Health Institute will partner with the American College of Cardiology in a trial that will link a genomic screening test with a clinical database of millions of patients who have cardiovascular disease, and that the ACC has named USF's Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation a Center of Excellence in Education and Training.

Another Heart Health Institute partner will include the Florida Pepin Heart Institute at Florida Hospital Tampa, which will collaborate with the institute on research and clinical trials, USF said.

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