The state of California and the University of California system yesterday launched a two-year, $3 million academic-industry collaboration aimed at advancing precision medicine.

The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine is envisioned as a first step toward enabling researchers across the state to access data from the UC health care system and other state-based academic medical centers and health care providers. The goal is for researchers to develop personalized therapies by integrating clinical and social data.

The initiative will develop two demonstration projects in disease areas where UC and private partners “have deep expertise.” State officials said the projects “will be designed to protect patient privacy.”

Additionally, the initiative will inventory the state’s public and private resources usable toward precision medicine; and ensure the “secure, fair, and respectful” exchange of data and knowledge by convening experts in medicine, technology, privacy, bioethics, and intellectual property.

“The success of the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine depends upon finding ways to effectively collect and integrate diverse forms of data, from the very objective—genomic and molecular—to the more subjective—environmental influences and life experiences,” Keith Yamamoto, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research at UC San Francisco (UCSF), said in a statement.

UCSF will host the initiative through UC Health, which includes all five UC medical centers, by combining $3 million in state funding with contributions from academic and industry partners.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers agreed to set aside the $3 million for precision medicine last summer in hammering out the $156.4 billion state budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30. It was one of several state government measures last year that drew support from California’s biopharma industry, following years of industry complaints about a chilly business climate.

“If we can work with interested parties in biotech and Silicon Valley, we’ll have a wealth of resources to develop precision medicine,” said Atul Butte, M.D., Ph.D., who is leading the initiative. Dr. Butte also directs UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences and is executive director of clinical informatics at UC Health.

California’s precision-medicine initiative arrives three months after President Obama committed his administration to launching a patient-specific medicine initiative in his State of the Union address, then followed up by setting aside $215 million for the purpose in his proposed budget for the federal fiscal year that starts October 1.

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