The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) said today it will receive $87 million more from the NIH in an expansion of a 5-year funding award reflecting expanded responsibility for enrollment of participants in the agency’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program.
TSRI said its funding will increase from the $120 million announced in July, to $207 million, reflecting its broadened role in the PMI Cohort Program. The program seeks to engage 1 million or more U.S. participants in a medical research effort intended to better prevent and treat disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and genetics.
The new funding will expand the program’s role in overseeing enrollment of 350,000 “direct volunteers,” individuals interested in joining the PMI research study directly rather than through a healthcare provider organization.
The award will also fund the creation of a Participant Technologies Center (PTC), designed to develop, test, maintain, and upgrade the mobile applications and technology platform that will be used to enroll, consent, collect data from, communicate with, and retain participants. The PTC will also develop parallel platforms to deliver these functions to participants without smartphones.
Eric Topol, M.D., professor of genomics at TSRI, and chief academic officer at the healthcare system Scripps Health, will direct the award. Dr. Topol is also director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI), an NIH-sponsored site led by TSRI and Scripps Health, that was created to translate wireless and genetic medical technologies into new treatments and diagnostics.
“We are exceptionally fortunate to be working with an unparalleled group of partners and to be able to leverage the strengths of these leaders from a broad spectrum of sectors—pharmaceutical companies and health insurers to wireless technology experts and mobile application developers,” Dr. Topol said in a statement.
To enroll the 350,000 “direct volunteers,” TSRI said, Dr. Topol’s team at STSI will work with partners that include Walgreens; San Diego Blood Bank; Leidos/QTC, a provider of government-outsourced occupational health and disability examination services; Quintiles Quest (Q2) Solutions, a provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services; and EMSI, a national provider of both medical information and risk management services.
Walgreens and Leidos/QTC are also among partners in a network focusing on technology development, data privacy and security, implementation, and participant engagement for the cohort program. Other partners include Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Computer Science Corp., the online patient network PatientsLikeMe, Qualcomm, Sage Bionetworks, health technology platform developer Vibrent Health, and WebMD.