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Details Emerge About PMI Cohort Recruitment Consortia

July 13, 2016
by David Raths
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Provider organizations describe their partnerships in recruiting diverse cohort

As part of the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program announcement last week, the National Institutes of Health detailed plans to build a recruitment network of healthcare provider organizations (HPOs) to ensure that participants in the research represent the geographic, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic diversity of the country. Soon after the announcement, these four HPO consortia released details about their upcoming efforts.

For instance, the University of Arizona Health Sciences and Banner Health have been awarded a grant that totals $43.3 million over five years to make significant contributions to the diversity of enrolled participants in the program. The inclusion of American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino participants will provide greater insights to disease prevention and treatment, making these advances available to traditionally underserved populations, regardless of race, ethnicity or geography. The UA-Banner PMI CP will recruit 150,000 participants in the Southwest region, Alaska and Wyoming over five years.

In Illinois, five organizations have received a consortium grant worth up to $45 million over five years. Northwestern University, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services LLC, have a goal of enrolling 150,000 Illinois participants in the study.

“The big excitement here is the opportunity to improve the way we predict, prevent and eventually treat disease,” said Philip Greenland, M.D., the Harry W. Dingman Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a principal investigator of the new award, in a prepared statement. “Just the scope of it -- 1 million people -- is beyond anything that anybody in the U.S. has ever done. This could be a game changer.”

In New York, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and Weill Cornell Medicine, in collaboration with New York-Presbyterian and NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, received grant funding to enroll participants in the Cohort Program. CUMC and its partners seek to enroll at least 150,000 volunteers by 2021. "The 'patient-powered' research that will result from our partnership with CUMC promises to help transform the way we achieve our mission to deliver equitable and culturally responsive care to the city's most vulnerable populations," said Ram Raju, MD, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, in a prepared statement. "Our collaboration with CUMC also underscores the critical role that the public hospital system plays in medical education and cutting-edge research to benefit the communities we serve."

The fourth regional award went to the University of Pittsburgh. The Pitt PMI project, called the Precision Approach to healthCARE (PA CARES), will be led by Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The program will launch at 11 enrollment sites across western Pennsylvania and neighboring states. In its first year, PA CARES aims to recruit and enroll 10,000 volunteer participants, as well as an additional 165,000 individuals over the five-year award period.

Also, one of the technology partners described its role. A relatively new company, Vibrent Health, has been selected to provide the technology platform for the PMI. Volunteers will enroll, consent and donate their data through Vibrent Health’s technology platform using mobile apps, web interfaces, interactive voice response (IVR), feature phones and wearable sensors. Vibrent Health will develop, test, maintain and upgrade the technology platform over a period of five years for the term of the award with data hosting from AWS GovCloud.

“This $74 million funding over five years is one of the largest federal investments in a health technology platform of its kind and we are honored to be selected for this mission-critical initiative,” said Vibrent Health founder and CEO Praduman Jain, in a prepared statement. “It validates our platform and demonstrates customer confidence in our technology innovation, security and maturity.”

Vibrent has partnered with The Scripps Research Institute, which will drive engagement research, participant enrollment of direct volunteers over five years and validation of emerging wearables and medical devices. Vibrent has also partnered with CSC which will provide an important element of human touch that complements the technology approach to data donation. CSC will provide participant support for consent, engagement, retention outreach and technical support.



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