Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) in La Jolla has recently received a $29 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for funding research regarding individualized medicine. According to US News Health, individualized medicine is “a field of healthcare informed by each person’s unique clinical, genetic, genomic, and environmental information”. The grant was announced on Tuesday, October 22 and will be the second grant the institute has gotten from the NIH. It is a renewal grant of the highly competitive Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). The first grant was received in 2008 and totaled $20 million. The $29 million will be distributed to the institution over a five-year period. STSI is led by Eric Topol, M.D., who is a professor of genomics at the institute as well as the chief academic officer for Scripps Health. “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 in a news release from The Scripps Research Institute.
STSI is a collaborative program between Scripps Health and The Scripps Research Institute in partnership with the San Diego Supercomputer Center. It is among one of the fifteen research centers to have been granted renewal of the CSTA this year. Uniquely, STSI is the only program within the CTSA’s 61 centers across the country that is not part of a university.
Already, STSI has made its impact on the lives of thousands of patients. Using the money from the 2008 grant, STSI began many studies, with three being specifically prominent. The first was a pilot study that regularly tested patients undergoing a heart stent procedure for their genetic compatibility with Plavix (a commonly prescribed blood thinner). The study enabled Scripps Health to become the first health system in the nation to do so. The second study is known as the Wellderly Study. The goal of the Wellderly Study has been to enroll 1,350 people who are 80 years of age or older for research into the genetic secrets of long and healthy lives. The whole genome sequences of the study’s more than 1,000 participants serve as reference data for other research into late-life diseases being linked to inherited genes. The third study is the Idiopathic Diseases of Man (IDIOM) Study. Using entire genome sequencing, the study helps determine causes of rare, serious, and puzzling health conditions. These health conditions have no definitive diagnosis or are unresponsive to typical treatments. This study is the only known study that has adult and pediatric idiopathic participants.
So, what’s in the future for STSI? In a recent news release from The Scripps Research Institute, president and CEO, Michael A. Marletta expresses high hopes. “Individualized medicine holds great promise,” he said. “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.”