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NIH Gives $5.5 Million to Expand PMI Cohort Program

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $5.5 million last week to four regional medical center groups being added to the national network of health care provider organizations implementing the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program.

The PMI Cohort Program is a research effort hoping to engage 1 million or more U.S. patients in providing data that will improve the ability to prevent and treat disease based on individual variation in lifestyle, environment, and genetics. Participants will complete questionnaires, provide their full electronic health records, give blood and urine samples, and share real-time information via smartphones and wearable devices.

The Cohort Program hopes to create a national resource for researchers looking to answer questions on a variety of health conditions.

The $5.5 million given to these four medical centers will go toward enrolling interested individuals, gathering health information and biospecimens, building infrastructure, and providing input on developing plans for the Cohort Program. Within the first year, these centers will have the potential to receive an additional $11.5 million in funds based on progress.

“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.”

The new health care provider organizations are:

  • California Precision Medicine Consortium: University of California-San Diego, with partners Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles; San Diego Blood Bank; University of California-Davis; University of California Health; University of California-Irvine; University of California-San Francisco; and University of Southern California-Los Angeles.
  • Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa.
  • New England Precision Medicine Consortium: Partners HealthCare System and its hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, with Boston University and Boston Medical Center.
  • Trans-American Consortium for the Health Care Systems Research Network: Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, with partners Baylor Scott and White Research Institute, Dallas; Essentia Health, Duluth, Minn.; Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester.

These new centers will extend the program’s geographic reach. They are also experts in engaging populations that are often unable to take part in research or underrepresented in research, such as racial and ethnic minority populations and people with mental illnesses, substance abuse problems, developmental delays, and cognitive impairments.

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