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UCSF-Led Precision Medicine Initiative Funds Six New Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University of California, San Francisco and California Governor Jerry Brown have announced the launch of six new projects for the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine (CIAPM).

These projects will be supported by $7.2 million in grant funding that the CIAPM made available earlier this year. One of the six projects focuses on early treatment of prostate cancer by assessing patient characteristics, cancer severity indicators, and genomics. That project, which is led by researchers at UC Irvine, expects to enroll 600 patients from five Southern California-area hospital. Collaborators include investigators and patients from the UC Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and the Veterans Affairs Long Beach Healthcare System.

A second project, run by teams at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, UCSF, and UC Berkeley will work on creating a catalogue of DNA variants to better understand harmful mutations and identify the causes of unusual and severe genetic conditions in children. Meanwhile, Cedars-Sinai Health investigators will work on using remote monitoring to predict heart attacks and other cardiovascular events in partnership with HealthLoop, Neoteryx, Beckman Coulter, Sciex, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Three other projects will focus on better diagnosing traumatic brain injury and strokes or aneurysms; helping patients better manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and depression; and combining clinical and real-time patient data to predict how multiple sclerosis develops over time.

These projects will bring "together academics, physicians, small and large businesses, and patients," Atul Butte, director of the UCSF Institute for Computational Health Sciences and principal investigator of CIAPM, said in a statement. Specifically, more than 20 organizations from academia, the private sector, patient advocacy, hospital systems, and entrepreneurs will be partnering on the selected projects. Each grant awardee is eligible for up to $1.2 million in funding, which will then be combined with other non-state funding sources. "These projects cover individuals who are healthy and ill, from the youngest to the oldest, and make use of the latest mobile, imaging, wearable and deep learning technologies, all to push the boundaries of what is possible in medicine," Butte added.

The CIAPM, which is hosted by UC San Francisco, was established in 2015 with $3 million in initial funding as a partnership between California, the UC system, and other public and private entities to advance precision medicine-focused data, tools, and applications. 

It awarded $2.4 million of that funding to two demonstration projects: The California Kids Cancer Comparison project led by David Haussler, a professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz, and Theodore Goldstein, a research associate at UC Santa Cruz, focused on developing bioinformatics tools to help doctors identify effective treatments for children whose cancers fail to respond to standard therapies; and the infectious disease project, led by Charles Chiu, an associate professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, focused on developing a single sequencing test to diagnose and treat acute infections in hospitalized patients.