Officials with Nashville-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have launched a subsidiary to house the organization’s genomic and bioinformatics resources to advance drug and diagnostics discovery and development.
The subsidiary, Nashville Biosciences, will serve as a commercial interface between outside companies and the research resources housed in VUMC, including its comprehensive databank BioVU, which contains more than 250,000 DNA samples collected over the last decade, coupled with 2.8 million de-identified patient records.
According to VUMC officials, pharmaceutical and other life science companies can leverage the wealth of data contained within the Medical Center’s genomics and health information technology resources to accelerate their discovery and development of new treatments for patients, while helping to support institutional research efforts.
“Partnering with the pharmaceutical and broader life sciences industry through Nashville Biosciences will enable VUMC to expand and support its mission of advancing translational and precision medicine,” Leeland Ekstrom, Ph.D., chief operating officer of Nashville Biosciences, said in a statement.
“The creation of Nashville Biosciences will dramatically accelerate our ability to work with pharmaceutical and other partners to advance human health by accelerating rational drug and diagnostics development and use,” Dan Roden, M.D., VUMC’s senior vice president for personalized medicine.
Among the capabilities that will distinguish the company are analytical methods developed for “mining” DNA datasets. For example, researchers led by Josh Denny, M.D., vice president of personalized medicine, have pioneered techniques such as PheWAS that can link specific genetic mutations to their key clinical characteristics (known as disease phenotypes).
Prior to the official launch of Nashville Biosciences, VUMC has been working with a number of leading pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies to leverage these resources, including: Celgene Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company based in Summit, New Jersey; Pfizer Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in New York, New York; Goldfinch Bio Inc., a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts focused on precision medicines for patients with kidney diseases; and Population Bio, Inc., a biotechnology company based in Melville, New York.
These projects, each of which aims to discover new treatments for patients in disease areas of interest for each partner, as well as multiple other ongoing efforts, will transition to the new company in the coming weeks, VUMC officials said.
“We’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what is possible with genomics and informatics resources that can be coalesced for research in a comprehensive academic medical center,” Gordon Bernard, M.D., executive vice president for research for VUMC.
“Partnering with Nashville Biosciences will greatly expand the national and global reach of these resources,” Bernard said.