Rush University Medical Center is participating in President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program, which aims to enroll 1 million or more participants in a national research effort designed to find better ways to prevent and to treat disease based on individuals’ lifestyle, environment and genetics. Precision medicine is a growing area of study that looks at how these factors can influence disease treatment and prevention.
“This range of information at the scale of one million people from all walks of life will be an unprecedented resource for researchers working to understand all of the factors that influence health and disease,” said Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health.
“Over time, data provided by participants will help us answer important health questions, such as why some people with elevated genetic and environmental risk factors for disease still manage to maintain good health, and how people suffering from a chronic illness can maintain the highest possible quality of life,” Collins said. “The more we understand about individual differences, the better able we will be to effectively prevent and treat illness.”
In the first year, the NIH will provide $55 million in awards nationwide to assemble the partnerships and infrastructure needed for this unprecedented health care effort, called the PMI Cohort Program.
A ‘wonderful opportunity’ for ‘solutions that matter for health’
Rush is partnering with the University of Chicago, which is one of three leaders of the program in Illinois; the others are Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition to the three universities, the statewide effort — to be called the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium — includes 11 other health care provider organizations as collaborating partners across the state.
The consortium has committed to recruiting, enrolling and collecting data and biospecimens from at least 150,000 participants from diverse ethnic, social and economic backgrounds, including healthy people and those with pre-existing diseases, over the coming 4.5 years. Rush has agreed to recruit participants for the study; gather health, environment and lifestyle data and genetic and biologic samples from these participants; and work with other NIH-funded PMI partners to answer key health questions. All information will be protected by privacy and security safeguards.
The other collaborating partners in the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium are the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services LLC, Blessing Health System, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Memorial Health System, Mile Square Health Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, NorthShore University Health System, OSF HealthCare, Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System and Southern Illinois University HealthCare.
The Illinois consortium will receive a total of $45 million in NIH funding over five years (pending progress reviews and availability of funds). It is one of four consortiums nationwide to receive an award from the NIH for this study. The other consortium leads are Columbia University Health Sciences, University of Arizona and University of Pittsburgh.
“This award will enable persons of all backgrounds to be active participants in a journey to find answers to important health questions,” said Raj C. Shah, MD, principal investigator for Rush in the University of Chicago-led part of the Illinois consortium. “The Precision Medicine Initiative is a wonderful opportunity for persons seeking care at Rush and their families to work together with their clinical care team, researchers, and health system leaders to find solutions to issues that matter for health and well-being.”
Learning how we can prevent illness in the first place
As partners in this research, study participants will provide input into study design and implementation. They will have access to a wide range of their individual and aggregated study results. The program will focus not just on disease, but also on ways to increase an individual’s chances of remaining healthy throughout life.
“What potential participants need to know is that we are equally interested in learning how we can prevent illness in the first place, but when we do get ill, which treatment options are going to work best for each of us individually,” said Eric Dishman, director of the PMI Cohort Program.
The four consortiums will ensure that participants in the PMI Cohort Program represent the geographic, ethnic, racial and socioeconomic diversity of the country. The consortiums will include regional and national medical centers, community health centers and medical centers operated by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Participants also may enroll directly through the Participant Technologies Center later this year.
The NIH is on course to begin initial enrollment into the PMI Cohort Program in 2016, with the aim of meeting its enrollment goal by the end of 2020.
Visit the NIH’s PMI Cohort Program website to learn more about the program and sign up for updates.
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