Center for personalized medicine among the nation’s first to broadly integrate genetics into patients’ care

UCHealth, the University of Colorado School of Medicine, UPI and Children’s Hospital Colorado create new center that uses a patient’s DNA to predict risk of disease, response to treatment and to identify individualized targeted therapies.
April 21st, 2014

Aurora, Colo. – Everyone’s health is determined by both environmental and genetic factors, but until recently, scientists and physicians were unable to harness the information in a patient’s DNA or in cancer tumors to provide better care.

Now, UCHealth the University of Colorado School of Medicine, University Physicians Inc. and Children’s Hospital Colorado are focusing clinical and research power to create the Center for Personalized Medicine and Biomedical Informatics.

Using a DNA and molecular testing, the center aims to:

  • Prevent Disease – Anticipate who is at risk of disease before the patients or their family members show the first sign of an illness.
  • Predict – a patient’s course of disease and how they will respond to treatment. By analyzing both the patient’s DNA and the genetic code of the cancer itself, physicians can identify targeted therapies for each individual patient.>
  • Identify – the right dose of a drug for each patient, and determine who might have a negative reaction to a drug before ever writing a prescription.
  • Research – A vast DNA bank and powerful computers will forge the future of medical research, searching for currently unknown DNA sequences and markers that point to disease susceptibility and more advanced treatments. All samples in the DNA bank will be de-identified to ensure complete security for patients’ information.

“This program will fundamentally change the way we offer care for patients by moving from a reactive system where we treat patients with established disease to a proactive system where we predict who will develop disease and identify disease in its very earliest stages,” says David Schwartz, MD, chair of the University of Colorado Department of Medicine. “Our hope is that this will reduce the disease burden on our population and improve the health and wellness of our patients.”

UCHealth, the CU School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado will invest significant resources in the center over the next five years, adding clinicians, genetic counselors, advanced practice nurses, researchers, a DNA Bank and an advanced data warehouse and analytics tools.

Advantages of personalized medicine

“We’re already seeing the advantages of personalized medicine applied in cancer treatment,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. “Molecular tests and targeted therapies are already here, and they’re a contributing reason why our patients’ survival rates for certain types of cancer are significantly better than national outcomes. This Center will bring those kinds of outcomes and life-saving therapies to all diseases in a similar way while providing more laboratory and computational power to evaluate cancer DNA.”

“Personalized medicine holds particular promise in pediatrics,” said Frederick J. Suchy, MD, chief research officer, director, Children’s Hospital Colorado Research Institute. “Disease prevention and individualized treatment have always been core principles in the care of children. The ability to establish a specific diagnosis will be incredibly valuable for genetic counseling and possibly even in developing a new therapy. This initiative will also give us the opportunity to make a diagnosis that otherwise would not have been made.”

A state-wide resource

While much of the Center will be based on the Anschutz Medical Campus, it will be a resource for UCHealth and Children’s Hospital Colorado locations throughout the state. Experts will be available for consultations with off-site physicians, and the DNA Bank will be able to sequence and analyze samples from across the region.

“While the Center for Personalized Medicine will be one of the only centers of its kind in the world, our aim is to share these resources as broadly as possible throughout UCHealth’s network of hospitals and clinics, and eventually beyond our system, increasing the health of patients everywhere,” said UCHealth CEO Bill Neff, MD.

The expansion will include a new Division of Personalized Medicine within the CU School of Medicine. “I’m confident this will revolutionize medicine, research and education as we know it,” said Richard Krugman, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “It’s almost impossible to quantify the amount of knowledge to be gained by examining our genome – the blueprints that make us who we are.”

Certain personalized medicine and genetic counseling services are already being offered, and those will be significantly expanded through the Center in the coming years.

About UCHealth

UCHealth is a Front Range health system that delivers the highest quality patient care with the highest quality patient experience.  UCHealth combines Memorial Hospital, Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies, Colorado Health Medical Group, and University of Colorado Hospital into an organization dedicated to health and providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. UCHealth partners with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and numerous community organizations to provide care. Separately, these institutions can continue providing superior care to patients and service to the communities they serve. Together, they push the boundaries of medicine, attracting more research funding, hosting more clinical trials and improving health through innovation.

About University of Colorado School of Medicine

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The school is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. To learn more about the School of Medicine, visit its website and look for it on Facebook.

About Children’s Hospital Colorado

Children’s Hospital Colorado (Children’s Colorado) has defined and delivered pediatric health care excellence for more than 100 years. Founded in 1908, Children’s Colorado is a leading pediatric network entirely devoted to the health and well-being of children. Continually acknowledged as one of the nation’s top ten Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report and Parents magazine, Children’s Colorado is known for both its nationally and internationally recognized medical, research, education and advocacy programs, as well as comprehensive everyday care for kids throughout Colorado and surrounding states. With urgent, emergency and specialty care locations throughout Metro Denver and Southern Colorado, including its campus on the Anschutz Medical Campus, Children’s Colorado provides a full spectrum of pediatric specialties. For more information, visit www.childrenscolorado.org and connect with Children’s Colorado on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Contact: Dan Weaver (720) 848-7852 or Dan.Weaver@UCHealth.org