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Boston University School of Medicine, Boston Medical Center Receive NIH Funds for National Precision Medicine Research Program
(Boston) - Oct. 13, 2016 - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) will join the national network of health care provider organizations (HPOs) that will implement the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. The PMI Cohort Program is a landmark longitudinal research effort that aims to engage one million or more U.S. participants to enable research that will, over time, improve the ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics.
BUSM and BMC, along with Partners HealthCare System (PHS), propose the creation of the “New England Precision Medicine Consortium,” a coordinated enrollment effort that encompasses these organizations. The New England consortium joins awardees announced earlier this year to enroll interested individuals, gather participants’ health information and bio-specimens and provide input on developing plans for the program. The combined New England consortium will receive initial funding of $5.5 million to begin recruitment and build infrastructure.
Beyond extending the PMI Cohort Program’s geographic reach, BUSM and BMC have expertise in engaging racial and ethnic minority populations who have been historically underrepresented in biomedical research. “We have a long and strong history of successfully engaging participants as partners in research and in sustaining longitudinal engagement using traditional as well as innovative IT approaches,” explained BUSM and BMC’s Principal Investigator George O’Connor, MD, professor of medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Sleep, and Critical Care Medicine and Director, Clinical Research, Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute at BUSM and Director of the Adult Asthma Program at BMC.
Participants will be invited to contribute a range of data about themselves by completing questionnaires, granting access to their electronic health records, providing blood and urine samples, undergoing a physical evaluation and sharing real-time information via smartphones or wearable devices. A primary goal of the PMI Cohort Program is to create a national resource for researchers, including citizen scientists, to help answer important questions about a variety of health conditions.
“We want this program to be open to everyone across the United States,” said Eric Dishman, director of the PMI Cohort Program. “These additional health care provider organizations will help us in our efforts to reach communities that have been underrepresented in research. By contributing their information, these communities will help people and their health care providers identify the right prevention strategies or treatments. With the PMI Cohort Program, we’re making a concerted effort to include people from all communities and walks of life, to make sure that the knowledge we gain benefits everyone.”
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