Geisinger Health System and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), have signed a strategic research agreement to look at the gaps in clinical medicine where biomedical research can make a difference. Geisinger is a non-profit medical and insurance provider based in Danville Pennsylvania and TGen is a non-profit biomedical research institute based in Phoenix.
One of the first projects will focus on the causes of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic conditions. Researchers plan to look at the possible genetic reasons why so many Americans are overweight, and why diet, exercising, and even bariatric surgery many fail to significantly reduce excess weight in some patients.
Geisinger’s value to the partnership is based on its integrated healthcare delivery model, non-transitory population, and advanced electronic health record with nearly two decades of data. In addition to providing the clinical underpinnings for the study of obesity, the data within the EHR will provide researchers with the evidence they need to do research on projects centered on cancer and other serious diseases.
“Given our unique research structure and patient population that overwhelmingly supports cutting-edge research, I am confident that this partnership will allow us to test and apply new clinical translation theories to patient care,” said Glenn D. Steele Jr. M.D. Ph.D., Geisinger’s President and CEO.
Johanna DiStefano, PhD, Director of TGen’s Diabetes, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases Division, will lead TGen’s efforts to understand the genetic basis of obesity and liver disease. She said research strategies would use the strengths of the large multidisciplinary research program in obesity at Geisinger.
“Merging Geisinger’s wealth of clinical information with our genomic and proteomic expertise should provide researchers a richer framework for exploring the genetic origins of disease, and hopefully lead to improved treatments and outcomes, said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, PhD., TGen’s President and Research Director.
In other TGen partnership news, the Institute is presently collaborating through the “Partnership for Personalized Medicine (PPM)” with Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The PPM’s mission is to improve medical outcomes and reduce costs by more effectively diagnosing disease risks and matching patients to therapies.
TGen has also formed a research alliance with the Van Andel Research Institute (VARI). The agreement enables TGen and VARI to tackle many of today’s leading diseases. The Alliance has already yielded significant benefits for Arizona by helping TGen secure a number of grants from NIH under ARRA.
TGen’s ARRA grants total $18.9 million and this means that TGen’s use of the funding could result in as much as $41.9 million in new business activity. Projects will be undertaken with partners at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University as well as with research institutes and universities across the U.S. and VARI.