Alexander: $1.2 Million NIH Award to Vanderbilt is “Good News for Millions Who Will Benefit from Personalized Medicine”

Posted on February 25, 2016

Calls White House announcement a “big compliment to Vanderbilt, a university at the forefront of biomedical research ”

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“I’m committed to supporting the president’s precision medicine initiative through our Senate health committee’s innovation agenda to ensure that Americans can take advantage of this remarkable time in science.”

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 25 – Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the White House’s announcement that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is awarding more than $1.2 million to Vanderbilt University to partner with Google in creating a pilot program to gather the genomes of 1 million Americans:

“This partnership between Vanderbilt and Google is good news for millions who will benefit from personalized medicine,” said Alexander. “This is also a big compliment to Vanderbilt, a university at the forefront of biomedical research. I’m committed to supporting the president’s precision medicine initiative through our Senate health committee’s innovation agenda to ensure Americans can take advantage of this remarkable time in science.”

During his State of the Union in January 2015, the president announced a Precision Medicine Initiative – a plan to map the genomes of 1 million volunteers and make the data available to researchers working to develop treatments and cures tailored to each individual patient, rather than one-size-fits-all treatments.

Vanderbilt received this award to conduct the three-month pilot of the “PMI Cohort Program” in partnership with Verily – a Google company specializing in biotechnology – as well as the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard and the University of Michigan. The pilot will test the best ways to engage volunteers for the million person cohort, test user-friendly data collection, as well as look at ways to help ensure that the data being collected and shared remains secure. Vanderbilt will also develop an informational website to share PMI objectives and ways for volunteers to get involved.

After the three month milestone, Vanderbilt will be eligible for additional awards, and the pilot program may ultimately be scaled up for use as the basis for the entire million-person cohort proposed by the White House.

Last May, Alexander attended a special session of a NIH workshop on precision medicine, held at Vanderbilt, with NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to hear more about how the NIH is working through the details of the president’s plan. There, Alexander praised the work of Vanderbilt University in precision medicine, as well as the participation of Dr. Josh Denny, an Associate Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine at Vanderbilt, and the principal investigator for the pilot program announced today.

Today’s award announcement comes as the White House holds its Precision Medicine Initiative Summit, marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the PMI.

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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