The National Institutes of Health has handed out nearly $55 million in grants as it seeks to enroll up to 1 million people willing to offering their patient data as part of President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative.
The agency on Wednesday named the Veterans Health Administration, four academic medical centers and six federally qualified health centers as lead patient recruiters for the initiative.
Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative early last year. The goal is to enroll at least 1 million American volunteers over the next three to four years in a longitudinal study cohort to further diagnostic, treatment and wellness research. Participants eventually will provide their genetic information, family medical histories and other electronic health record information to a massive electronic database, or network of databases, accessible by researchers.
For most of human history, medicine has been based on what works for the average patient, “But one-size-fits-all is often not an optimal strategy,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins at a news conference to announce the latest grant awards.
The goal is to use the power of data, including research on individuals' genomic sequences, to not only provide better diagnoses and treatments, but also to “increase our understanding of staying healthy.”
Collins said the major provider organizations are expected to enroll 10,000 participants in their first year.
The four private-sector prime recruiters with initial-year grant awards of $4 million each on five-year contracts are Columbia University Health Sciences, New York City; Northwestern University, Chicago; University of Arizona, Tucson; and the University of Pittsburgh.
Working with Columbia as “key collaborators” will be Harlem Hospital and Weill Medical College of Cornell University; with Northwestern, the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services, Lurie Children's Hospital, University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago; and with Arizona, Banner Health, Phoenix.
The health center grant winners are: Cherokee Health Systems, Knoxville, Tenn.; Community Health Center, Middletown, Conn.; Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center, Columbia, S.C.; HRHCare, Peekskill, N.Y.; Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center, Jackson, Miss.; and San Ysidro (Calif.) Health Center. They'll receive grants of $100,000 each and will be working with the Mitre Corp., McLean, Va., as a collaborator.
The NIH also named Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, as the head of the project's Data and Research Support Center, sharing a first-year, $14 million grant in a five-year contract with collaborators the Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass.; and Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences), Mountain View, Calif.
And the NIH named the Scripps Research Institute, San Diego, winner of an initial, $20 million grant under a five-year contract to head the program's Participant Technologies Center along with Vibrent Health, Fairfax, Va. Their aim is to develop mobile apps and consumer-facing computer portals that will enable patients to enroll, sign consent forms and exchange data with the program.
The Mayo Clinic was named in March as keeper of the project's biospecimen bank, a $142 million, five-year contract award.
Leaders from those organizations met for the first time as Precision Medicine Initiative participants Wednesday for a 2½ day conference in Bethesda, Md.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration announced the release of a pair of draft guidelines its leaders hope will facilitate the use of big data in developing regulated genetic tests and treatments that will be at the heart of the initiative's effort.