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Cedars-Sinai Creating Research Institute with Proteomics Focus

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is creating a new institute within the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute that will apply proteomics technologies and methods in basic, experimental, and clinical medicine research projects, a Cedars-Sinai executive told GenomeWeb Daily News this week.

The Advanced Clinical Biosystems Research Institute will be led by Director Jennifer Van Eyk, who is moving most of her ongoing research programs and lab team from her current post at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. Around 18 to 20 members of Van Eyk's lab already have or will soon relocate to work in the new institute and much of the funded research they are already working on will shift to the new institute.

Cedars-Sinai's VP of Research Mark Daniel told GWDN that the new institute is part of "a major effort of energy and resources" to develop the Heart Institute.
Daniel said the Van Eyk recruitment to lead the new institute is "exciting" because it brings someone with a strong track record in the research world into a hospital setting.

"We really think that having programs like this co-located with our clinical programs and with physicians treating patients is the pathway, if you will, to advance translational research," he said.

"It is really part of moving basic science into the clinic. Van Eyk really will bring cutting-edge approaches to proteomics and clinical biosystems research into a hospital setting."

Van Eyk told GWDN that Cedars-Sinai "really does this translation of moving discovery into something that will be used clinically." For the new institute, that may mean using biomarkers to make drugs more efficient or to stratify patients on their heart failure risk, or working with companies to develop monitoring technologies for managing drug side effects, she said.

Cedars-Sinai is creating two labs that will constitute the core of the new institute, a research discovery lab and a mass spectrometry facility. Once they are fully outfitted, the two labs will host up to six mass spectrometry instruments and a range of other tools, and they will provide proteomics services to other Cedars-Sinai scientists looking at cancer biomarkers and in other disciplines. The research lab will be located within the Heart Institute and the mass spec lab will be housed with other wet lab facilities in another building.

Cedars-Sinai also has some pre-existing mass spec tools that will be rolled into the Van Eyk lab as part of the new institute. All of these new facilities should be up and running by the end of June, Daniel said. He said the new facility is being developed using general funds that were set aside specifically for developing the heart institute.

The new institute may seek to develop biomarkers that Cedars-Sinai physicians can try out in the clinical setting, use to develop new treatments, and possibly develop commercial tests, Daniels said.

Aside from the specific research goals, Daniel said Cedars-Sinai views this institute and its labs as a step toward advancing translational research and to beef up its research capabilities.

"We are looking at it as a resource that will enable our investigators to be more competitive to get grant funding from [the National Institutes of Health] and other philanthropic sources, as well as to work with industry," Daniel explained.

Van Eyk's research has generally centered on using proteomics in cardiovascular diseases, with a particular emphasis on heart failure, but her lab works on many diseases.

"It all starts with being able to quantify proteins in disease-modified forms so we know exactly what is there and what is living in a cell, and being able to do it on one patient or on 10,000 patients."

Van Eyk told GWDN that her lab works in what she calls "clinical domains."

"So, if you are going after heart failure: you can do it with devices, you can do it with drugs, or you can do it with stem cells," she said. "We will look at all of those and try to find the best way forward, [to find out] which patient should get which therapy or which patient will be a non-responder. We will look at what are the biomarkers that we need in that area. We look in these domains where we don't just look at one question, but we look at the questions around what will make a clinical application better."

In addition to her role as director of the new institute, Van Eyk will lead basic research at the Barbara Streisand Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai, Daniel said, with women's heart health and gender differences in heart disease important components of her lab's research efforts.

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