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Intermountain Awards More Than $400K in Precision Medicine Grants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Intermountain Precision Genomics, a program within Intermountain Healthcare, has awarded more than $400,000 in total to researchers at Stanford University, Huntsman Cancer Institute, the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Vivid Genomics to improve individual health.

The awards will fund four translational research projects that Intermountain said will expedite clinical and translational research, advance molecular knowledge in precision medicine, and help patients live healthier lives.  

The groups will use NGS One Genomic Services, a next-generation sequencing service offered by Intermountain, to complete their research.

"Award recipients have put forward innovative proposals and have demonstrated high competency in leveraging next-generation sequencing approaches for precision medicine across various medical disciplines," Intermountain's Translation Science Center Director Helaman Escobar said in a statement.

Carlos Bustamante, a professor of biomedical data science at Stanford, and his team will use the award to examine a method for predicting undiagnosed cases of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). The team will apply an algorithm to patient electronic medical records provided by Intermountain Healthcare to predict a person's risk for FH.

At the University of Utah School of Medicine, cancer researcher Nicola Camp will use the funding to conduct a project on discovering novel breast cancer susceptibility variants.

"Our breast cancer project … includes the study of hundreds of Intermountain Healthcare breast cancer samples to identify regions of the genome we believe harbor new breast cancer susceptibility genes," Camp said in a statement. "This funding will help us interrogate those regions to discover the specific genes and risk variants involved."

In addition, Jennifer Doherty, an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Utah School of Medicine, and her postdoctoral fellow Mollie Barnard will use the award to explore the genetic epidemiology of ovarian cancer in high-risk pedigrees.

"Major changes in the understanding of ovarian cancer classifications based on molecular features have occurred recently, and our project is leveraging this new knowledge to identify novel ovarian cancer susceptibility variants that could inform ovarian cancer prevention and treatment strategies," Doherty said in a statement.

Vivid Genomics will use the funding for a pilot project to study genetic predictors of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases by sequencing the genomes of individuals with and without dementia. The firm said that the study will use genetics to improve disease prediction and potentially lead to approved drugs by finding unique agents and regions of the genome linked to brain pathology related to neurodegenerative diseases.