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Columbia to Play Important Role in NIH Precision Medicine Initiative

July 20, 2016

Columbia to Provide Data & Research Support for NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program

Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) will play an important role in a national health research project, called All of Us. All of Us is an ambitious effort to gather data over time from 1 million or more people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health.

NIH will award $13.7 million this fiscal year to a coalition of research institutions, led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., Verily Life Sciences in Mountain View, Calif., and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., to establish the Data and Research Support Center. CUIMC’s biomedical informatics team, a partner in the effort, will help curate data from a variety of sources contributing health information to the PMI Cohort Program, including electronic health records, medical and pharmaceutical databases, and payer databases. CUIMC will standardize the information, ensure the quality of the data, and convert data into a format that is usable by researchers involved in the program.

Over the next five years, the Data and Research Support Center will acquire and organize the large and diverse dataset resulting from this effort to look for clues about the many individual factors contributing to health and illness. It will also provide research support and analytical tools to researchers who are interested in using the data.

Other collaborators include the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and the University of Texas School of Bioinformatics in Houston.

“Our role in this endeavor is a further validation of our expertise in large-scale data management and analysis,” said Lee Goldman, MD, Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Chief Executive, CUIMC. “Our work in the Data and Research Support Center for the PMI Cohort Program dovetails perfectly with our effort to enroll a diverse range of participants in this important research endeavor. It also aligns with our own university-wide emphasis on using the tools of precision medicine to provide the highest level of care for every individual.”

“Based on our three decades-long experience with electronic health records, our expertise in managing the quality of health data, and our leadership role in the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) initiative, a combined repository of more than 600 million patient records in 14 countries, CUIMC is a natural fit for this project,” said George Hripcsak, MD, the Vivian Beaumont Allen Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at CUIMC, director of medical informatics services at NewYork-Presbyterian, and a site Principal Investigator of the grant.

CUIMC is also designated as a regional medical center for the PMI Cohort Program. Along with its collaborators, NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medicine, and NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, CUIMC seeks to enroll more than 150,000 participants in the PMI Cohort Program by 2021.

“In a research program as large and important as this one, it is essential that all of the data regarding health history, current health status, and lifestyle and environmental factors are carefully vetted to ensure relevance and reliability and harmonized to make it as accessible and useful for researchers as possible,” said Dr. Hripcsak, who is also a Principal Investigator of the health care provider organization grant. “Given our own experience in synthesizing and standardizing large, disparate data sets, we are confident of our ability to offer creative solutions for organizing and sharing the information with researchers using PMI Cohort Program data to identify the many individual factors that affect health.”

CUIMC will standardize and correct the data with methods that it has already used successfully to conduct large-scale observational research in collaboration with the OHDSI program. That group’s first large-scale study, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used a cohort of 250 million patients to identify differences in clinical practice for several chronic conditions.

“Having a dual role in the PMI Cohort Program is extremely exciting,” said David Goldstein, PhD, professor of genetics and development and director of the Institute of Genomic Medicine at CUIMC and Contact Principal Investigator for the PMI Cohort Program Healthcare Provider Organization grant. “From this standpoint, we can contribute to the overall diversity of volunteers for the research program and to the way we help frame the questions for researchers. This is an important part of our national conversation about improving patient care by focusing on individual characteristics rather than clinical commonalities.”

Learn more about the All of Us Research Program at Columbia, or call 212-305-9927 or email at allofus@cumc.columbia.edu.

What is All of Us?