Institute For Precision Medicine PreMIP Program Selects New Asthma and Pharmacogenomics Projects for $1MM Funding

150 150 Doug Freeman
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The Precision Medicine Implementation Program (PreMIP) from the Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM) funds research to accelerate precision medicine approaches leading to improved patient care through implementation and commercialization. PreMIP aims to generate data with a high level of causal evidence that may result in a change of clinical care that improves patient outcomes, reduces costs or spurs efficiency, or bolsters other measures of quality health care.

In March 2022, the IPM sought letters of intent for new project ideas from across the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. More than 20 departments and divisions submitted 35 letters of intent, of which 15 were invited to submit a full proposal. The projects represented a mix of clinical implementation and biomarker discovery efforts. In late August 2022, a study section of 15 faculty reviewers from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Public Health scored all of the grants according to National Institutes of Health criteria and alignment with PreMIP objectives. The final selection of projects for funding was determined following a programmatic review.

Two projects were selected to receive up to $1 million each in funding over three years.

Project #1 
Multi-Modal Transcriptomics for Personalized Risk Assessment in Asthma: Identifying Risk of Severe Exacerbations and Predicting Response to Biological Therapies

Project Leaders:
Erick Forno, MD, MPH, director of the pediatric Asthma Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (PI); Wei Chen, PhD, professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, and Heng Huang, PhD, the John A. Jurenko Endowed Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Biomedical Informatics.

Project Description:
Drs. Forno, Chen, and Huang, using data from a cohort of 125 pediatric patients with asthma, will design transcriptomic biomarker risk scores in nasal epithelium and blood to identify patients with childhood asthma who are at high risk of severe disease exacerbations. The project also will work to predict the response to biological therapies in patients with severe childhood asthma. To accomplish these aims, the team will further integrate genome-wide transcriptomic and DNA methylation data that show the strongest associations with severe exacerbations and biological response to determine regulatory pathways associated with the expression of asthma genes and outcome prediction. These transcriptomic risk scores could serve as prognostic biomarkers for patients with asthma and lead to the potential discovery of new therapeutic targets.

Project #2
Implementing Risk-Based Preemptive Pharmacogenomic Testing in Employee Health

Project Leaders:
Philip Emprey, PharmD, PhD, FCCP, associate professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics (PI); Lucas Berenbrok, PharmD, BCACP, TTS, associate professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics (MPI); James Coons, PharmD, FCCP, FACC, BCCP, professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics; Mylynda Massart, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Pediatrics; Ed Smith ; C. Bernie Good, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine and Pharmacy; and Samuel K Peasah, PhD, MBA, RPh, adjunct faculty, Pharmacy and Therapeutics; and Yan Huang, MAS .

Project Description:
This project will evaluate the clinical utility of a new 14-gene pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing panel created by the Pitt and UPMC team and deployed through an innovative, comprehensive medication management (CMM) service for University of Pittsburgh and UPMC employees at increased risk of poor or costly medical outcomes.

The research aims to identify patients at increased risk for adverse medication-related outcomes and who may benefit from preemptive, panel-based PGx testing. The project team will conduct a rigorous, pragmatic clinical trial to determine the real-world clinical value of the approach, produce PGx Risk Scores capable of predicting which patients may benefit from the screening, and develop a new clinical decision support tool within the UPMC electronic health record.

About the Institute for Precision Medicine
The Institute for Precision Medicine, directed by Adrian Lee, PhD, is a collaboration between the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC. The IPM facilitates the movement of biomedical research into personalized clinical care, with the goal of helping researchers and clinicians discover and exploit clinically actionable features of disease risk, the effectiveness of medical treatments, and disease progression.