10 Oct Doyle announces genomics research collaborative
Marshfield, Wis. – As the Marshfield Clinic dedicated a new building at its Melvin R. Laird Center for Medical Research, Gov. Jim Doyle announced a new genomics initiative designed to leverage the expertise at four of the state’s leading medical research institutions, including Marshfield Clinic.
Doyle said the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative would be established to drive advances in personalized medicine, the science of tailoring drug therapies and other medical care to the genetic characteristics of individual patients.
“With our combined knowledge, expertise, and technologies here in Wisconsin, we have an incredible opportunity to become a worldwide leader in personalized healthcare,” Doyle said.
According to Doyle, the genomics initiative will feature an unprecedented level of collaboration between the Marshfield Clinic, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health.
Wisconsin medical research triangle
In 2006, Doyle had challenged the four institutions to leverage their resources by creating a medical research triangle in Wisconsin. Such collaborations are being emphasized by the federal agencies that fund medical research, and members of the genomics initiative will attempt to obtain federal research grants.
Various strengths of each institution will be brought to bear on the initiative, Doyle said, including information technology pieces like the Marshfield Clinic’s DNA database and UW-Madison’s computing power. In addition, the initiative will feature genetic research and DNA sequencing at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the urban health and health informatics research of UW-Milwaukee, and the stem cell and regenerative medicine research of UW-Madison.
In addition, Marshfield Clinic is home to the Personalized Medicine Research Project, a population-based genetic research effort that 20,000 people have contributed DNA to.
Paul DeLuca, associate dean for research and graduate programs at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, told the university’s news service that the genomics initiative would produce “a monstrous amount” of genomic and medical data that will be analyzed by computer scientists at the UW. The analysis could identify biomarkers that indicate susceptibility to heart disease, he indicated.
The genomics initiative could be aided by the state’s efforts to achieve statewide electronic health record standards, which would enable the institutions to share research data.
Among those in attendance at the announcement was Melvin Laird, who attended high school in Marshfield, fought for medical research funding and facilities while representing the central Wisconsin region in Congress, and served as Secretary of Defense in the Nixon Administration.
Also attending the announcement was Elias A. Zerhouni, the outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health, and Congressman David Obey, who now represents Laird’s former district.
Obey said medical experts have testified before his committee that the future of medicine includes predicting the diseases that individuals might get, and designing preventive treatments. He said the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative “is all about getting us to that future.”
Among the goals of the initiative are to develop scientific models that: predict, with a high degree of accuracy, an individual’s susceptibility to disease; determine how well each patient will respond to specific treatments; precisely target personalized treatments; and prevent disease before it occurs.
Jim Leonhart, executive director of the Wisconsin Biotechnology & Medical Device Association, said the initiative would solidify Wisconsin’s global leadership in personalized healthcare research.
“The collective strength of the four participating Wisconsin institutions, each a research leader in its own right, will move transformational DNA-based research from lab bench to bedside more quickly than ever,” Leonhart said in a statement released by the association.