Weill Cornell, New York Presbyterian launch Institute for Precision Medicine

Will put 'advanced technology' to work in finding personalized cures

Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital have collaborated on the new Institute for Precision Medicine, a translational medicine research hub that will use leading edge technology to create targeted treatments based patients' genetic profiles.

Officials say the institute's genomic research discoveries will help develop personalized medical therapies that will be tested in innovative clinical trials, and will develop a comprehensive biobank to improve research and patient care.

The Institute for Precision Medicine will be helmed by Mark Rubin, MD, a pathologist and prostate cancer expert who uses whole genomic sequencing in his laboratory to investigate DNA mutations that lead to disease.

Rubin and his team want to replace the traditional one-size-fits-all medicine paradigm with one that focuses on individualized patient care using specific genetic profiles and medical histories, officials say. Physician-scientists at the institute will seek to precisely identify the genetic influencers of a patient's specific illness – cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease – and use this genetic information to develop treatments that target those contributing factors.

Genomic analyses of tumor tissue will enable researchers to help patients with advanced disease and no current treatment options, as well as to isolate the causes of drug resistance in patients who stop responding to treatments, redirecting them to more successful therapies, officials say.

"This institute will revolutionize the way we treat disease, linking cutting-edge research and next-generation sequencing in the laboratory to the patient's bedside," said Rubin in a statement. "We will use advanced technology and the collective wealth of knowledge from our clinicians, basic scientists, pathologists, molecular biologists and computational biologists to pinpoint the molecular underpinnings of disease -- information that will spur the discovery of novel treatments and therapies."

Preventive precision medicine will also be a key initiative at the institute, with physicians and scientists working to help identify a patient's risk of diseases and take necessary steps to aid in its prevention through medical treatment and/or lifestyle modification. In addition, the Institute for Precision Medicine will leverage an arsenal of innovative genomic sequencing, biobanking and bioinformatics technology to transform the existing paradigm for diagnosing and treating patients.

"Precision medicine is the future of medicine, and its application will help countless patients," says Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, in a statement. "The Institute for Precision Medicine, with Dr. Rubin's expertise and strong leadership, will accelerate our understanding of the human genome, provide key insights into the causes of disease and enable our physician-scientists to translate this knowledge from the lab to the clinical setting to help deliver personalized treatments to the sickest of our patients."

Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian will invest in "state-of-the-art" technology to conduct sequencing, a more expansive biobank for all patient specimens and tissue samples and dedicated bioinformaticians who will closely analyze patient data, searching for genetic mutations and other abnormalities to identify and target with treatment, officials say.

"The Institute for Precision Medicine will enable our doctors to tailor effective treatments for individual patients and also predict the diseases that are likely to affect a patient long before they develop," says Steven J. Corwin, MD, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "By harnessing the full potential of our enhanced understanding of the human genome, and extending its reach into the clinical realm, the institute will transform patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and beyond."

[See also: Weill Cornell Medical College creates center for informatics, policy]