PHILADELPHIA - The Penn Center for Precision Medicine (PCPM) Accelerator Fund awarded eight research teams from Penn Medicine in their inaugural support of the implementation of personalized medicine projects across a gamut of clinical specialties. The projects cover a range of clinical applications, from lung cancer to infectious disease to knee surgery. Each project was given up to $100,000.

“All of our awardees are actively involved in everyday patient care and their projects promise to have a lasting impact on health care in general,” said David Roth, MD, PhD, director of the Center and chairman of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “By linking increasingly comprehensive patient physiological data, collected over time in health as well as in disease, precision medicine has the potential to transform translational research.”

PCPM, founded in January 2016, serves to implement precision medicine-based clinical care in the fabric of routine care provided by the University of Pennsylvania Health System. PCPM brings together an interdisciplinary team of Penn faculty members with expertise in data analysis, biomedical informatics, biostatistics, and health economics to measure both biological and economic outcomes.

Much of current evidence-based medicine is aimed at treating the average patient, based on data collected through large-scale clinical trials. In contrast, precision medicine -- personalized therapy based on a patient’s full physical and genetic data -- is focused on treating each person as a unique individual. Recent advances in diagnostic technology, including genomics, biomarkers, imaging, and data analytics, have paved the way for more specific, targeted therapies.

The rapid introduction of new discoveries and technological advances into the routine practice of medicine has the potential to dramatically alter healthcare by shifting the focus to individualized care. The aim is to improve outcomes and reduce wasteful, ineffective therapies.

The following eight projects, which include 38 investigators from sixteen different Penn Departments and Divisions, were selected for the inaugural round of accelerator funding from a total of 36 applications:

Measuring the Impact of ctDNA NGS on Clinical Decision Making for NSCLC Patients

Erica L. Carpenter, MBA, PhD, and Charu Aggarwal, MD, Hematology & Oncology

Validate the accelerated and broadened use of circulating tumor DNA to test for noninvasive, blood-based tumor variants in the routine care of non-small cell lung cancer patients

A Pharmacogenetic Approach to Parkinson’s Disease

Alice Chen-Plotkin, MD, Neurology

Develop a small, clinically usable panel of genetic markers to identify patients with  Parkinson’s Disease who are at high risk for impulse control disorders arising from existing Parkinson’s disease patients’ data from Penn and larger, international cohorts for pharmacogenetic decision-making

Optimizing Antimicrobial Prescribing Using a Precision Antibiogram

Keith Hamilton, MD, Infectious Diseases

Develop a smartphone app that imports important characteristics of individual patients to determine the best antibiotic for that patient at each time of inquiry, allowing doctors to communicate more easily with infectious disease specialists about their patients to figure out the best antibiotic for treatment

Precision Medicine and Digital Media: Exploring Applications for Clinical Care

Raina M. Merchant, MD, MSHP, FAHA, Emergency Medicine

Analyze consenting patients’ ongoing use of social media in order to evaluate the association between everyday behaviors captured in their online data and their electronic health record to learn more about effective and ethical methods for sharing these “social mediome” insights with patients and providers

PARP Inhibition in Advanced Breast Cancer with non-BRCA-associated Deficient Homologous Recombination

Payal D. Shah, MD, Hematology & Oncology

Extend the indications of the drug olaparib, a well-tolerated, effective oral therapy for BRCA1/2-associated cancers, to a broader, genetically targeted population of breast and other cancer patients and to understand the biological predictors of tumor response and resistance to treatment to select patients who are most likely to respond to olaparib

Prehabilitation to Improve Postoperative Outcomes and Limit Complications

Carsten C. Skarke, MD, Medicine and Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics

Test the hypothesis that prehabilitation -- exercise tailored to the personalized needs of a patient -- improves outcome and limits complications during recovery, with the aid of mobile phone applications and wearable devices

Actionable Pharmacogenetic Variants in the University of Pennsylvania Health System

Sony Tuteja, PharmD, MS, Translational Medicine and Human Genetics

Examine the frequency of actionable genetic variants with regard to reactions to drugs using data from the 12,000 participants captured in the Penn Biobank who have undergone sequencing of the portion of their genome that codes for protein synthesis to tailor therapies and use electronic health records to identify drug-related outcomes

UsingT1rho MRI as a Surrogate for Detection of Early Cartilage Degeneration and Guide for Early Intervention in Patellofemoral Pain

Miltiadis H. Zgonis, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery

Identify patients with early degenerative cartilage changes prior to structural failure and to track recuperation of the cartilage after such interventions as realignment surgery for patellofemoral syndrome.

Project Requests for Application for the second round of Accelerator Fund projects, due on February 1, 2017, are available here.

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, excellence in patient care, and community service. The organization consists of the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school.

The Perelman School of Medicine is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $550 million awarded in the 2022 fiscal year. Home to a proud history of “firsts” in medicine, Penn Medicine teams have pioneered discoveries and innovations that have shaped modern medicine, including recent breakthroughs such as CAR T cell therapy for cancer and the mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities stretch from the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania to the New Jersey shore. These include the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Health, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Pennsylvania Hospital—the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is an $11.1 billion enterprise powered by more than 49,000 talented faculty and staff.

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