The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), based in La Jolla, Calif., will receive an additional $87 million in funding form the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand the scope of its work as part of the national Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program.
TSRI said its NIH funding will increase from the $120 million announced in July, to $207 million, which signifies the organization’s broadening role in the PMI initiative. The PMI Cohort Program seeks to engage one million or more U.S. participants in a medical research effort aimed at improving the ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics.
“The size of this award underscores the critical nature of this research in improving our ability to prevent and treat disease,” TSRI president Peter Schultz said in a statement.
Eric Topol, M.D., director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI), professor of genomics at TSRI and chief academic officer at Scripps Health, will direct the award. STSI is a NIH-sponsored site led by TSRI and Scripps Health.
The new funding will expand the group’s role in overseeing the enrollment of 350,000 “direct volunteers,” individuals interested in joining the PMI research study directly rather than through a healthcare provider organization. In addition, the award funds the creation of a Participant Technologies Center (PTC) to develop, test, maintain and upgrade the mobile applications and technology platform used to enroll, consent, collect data from, communicate with and retain participants. The PTC will also develop parallel platforms to deliver these same functions to those without smartphones.
According to TSRI, in order to enroll the 350,000 “direct volunteers,” Topol’s team at STSI will work with partners that include Walgreens; Leidos/QTC; Quintiles; San Diego Blood Bank, National Blood Collaborative and EMSI.
Walgreens and Leidos are also among partners in a network focusing on technology development, data privacy and security, implementation and participant engagement. Other partner organizations in that network include Vibrent Health, Sage Bionetworks, WebMD, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, PatientsLikeMe, Computer Science Corporation and Qualcomm Inc.
“We are exceptionally fortunate to be working with an unparalleled group of partners and to be able to leverage the strengths of these leaders from a broad spectrum of sectors—pharmaceutical companies and health insurers to wireless technology experts and mobile application developers,” Topol said in a statement. “The depth and breadth of expertise of these organizations will be invaluable to our goal of advancing individualized medicine at a national level.”
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