NIH Awards Scripps Translational Science Institute $29 Million Grant

Funding will speed transfer of genomics and wireless health discoveries to patient care

A new trade agreement hammered out between the United States and China could boost the competitive positions of San Diego area medical technology companies.

The National Institutes of Health has renewed its prestigious Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) with the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) in the amount of $29 million over the next five years to support innovative research in genomics, wireless technology and bioinformatics toward individualizing medicine.

STSI, which is a collaborative program between Scripps Health and The Scripps Research Institute in partnership with the San Diego Supercomputer Center, was among 15 research centers to receive CTSA renewals this week. The institute is led by Eric Topol, MD, who is the chief academic officer of Scripps Health and a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute.

STSI received its first CTSA grant in 2008 for $20 million in funding. It is the only program among the 61 CTSA centers spread across the country that is not part of a university.

“We are thrilled to have the NIH support us in our ambitious efforts to transform the future of medicine by focusing on genomics, wireless technology and bioinformatics,” Topol said. “By bringing Scripps Health, The Scripps Research Institute and the San Diego Supercomputer Center together, along with all of the remarkable brain trust assets in San Diego’s life sciences community, we are well positioned to have an important impact on making individualized medicine a reality.”

“Individualized medicine holds great promise,” said Michael A. Marletta, president and CEO of The Scripps Research Institute. “I am delighted to bring our scientific expertise at the intersection of biology and chemistry to bear on this exciting new approach to developing the therapies of the future. Eric Topol deserves our thanks for his leadership and for bringing our institutions together. We hope to capitalize on this more in the future.”

“Through efforts like this, Scripps Health and The Scripps Research Institute are playing a leading role in shaping the future of medicine,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “We are moving away from a sickness model of care – one that treats you when you are ill – to a prevention and wellness model that helps patients avoid serious illness and hospitalization. Genomics and wireless medicine are playing vital roles in that transformation.”

The highly competitive grant renewal affirms the importance of the work done by STSI scientists over the past five years and ensures that world-class research will continue at the Torrey Pines Mesa center for years to come.

Achievements during phase I

In the area of pharmacogenomics, a pilot study conducted by STSI enabled Scripps Health to become the first health system in the country to routinely test patients undergoing a heart stent procedure for their genetic compatibility with the commonly prescribed blood thinner clopidogrel (Plavix).

STSI’s Wellderly Study has enrolled more than 1,350 people who are 80 years of age or older in a scientific search for the genetic secrets of healthy, long lives. The whole-genome sequences of 1,000 of the study’s participants will serve as a reference data base for other research into late-onset diseases linked to inherited genes. Some exciting data from this study will be forthcoming soon.

Heart attack patients from throughout the San Diego area are being studied in an effort to develop a test that will predict a heart attack before it happens by detecting genomic signals from unusual cells circulating in the blood stream.

Along the way, STSI researchers have developed advanced tools for analyzing DNA sequencing data. The center also serves as a training ground for talented young physicians recruited from across the country who are part of a new generation of clinical-scientists.

Drug discovery, wireless health

Looking ahead, STSI’s work will include initiatives in a number of new areas.

Scientists will use the center’s genetic sequencing and analysis expertise to enhance drug discovery efforts, reveal the mechanisms underlying drug resistance and unravel some of the mysteries of autoimmune disorders.

With more than 150 companies in the San Diego area working on wireless health applications and devices, STSI has emerged as a center for the rigorous clinical testing that is necessary to prove the effectiveness and value of emerging digital medicine technology.

Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.

Media Contact

Keith Darce

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