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Dr. Hoda Anton-Culver, professor and chair of epidemiology at UCI, will serve as co-principal investigator for the California Precision Medicine Consortium's initial $1.3 million award from the National Institutes of Health. Steve Zylius / UCI

UCI epidemiologist to co-lead statewide precision medicine effort

Consortium will help recruit million-person cohort at center of federal program

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 13, 2016 — University of California, Irvine epidemiologist Dr. Hoda Anton-Culver will help lead an ambitious and far-reaching statewide effort to recruit tens of thousands of patients for President Barack Obama’s million-person health study, part of his Precision Medicine Initiative.

The California Precision Medicine Consortium – a partnership among UCI, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC San Francisco and UC Health, along with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the San Diego Blood Bank and the University of Southern California – is one of four regional groups chosen today by the National Institutes of Health to take part in a national network of healthcare provider organizations building the Precision Medicine Initiative’s research participant group, or cohort.

As a network member, the California Precision Medicine Consortium will receive an initial $1.3 million over the next five months and may receive additional NIH funding as efforts advance over the next year. The four regional healthcare provider organizations join awardees announced earlier this year that will enroll interested individuals, gather participants’ health information and biospecimens, and help develop plans for the PMI Cohort Program.

Anton-Culver, professor and chair of epidemiology at UCI, will serve as co-principal investigator for the California Precision Medicine Consortium’s award, along with Dr. Lucila Ohno-Machado of UC San Diego and Dr. Atul Butte of UC San Francisco.

The Precision Medicine Initiative’s objective is to create a framework by which medical treatment and prevention can be tailored to each individual. The cohort program is the largest piece of the PMI: a million-volunteer health study of the interplay among lifestyle, environment and genetics. The cohort is intended to be a national resource for researchers, including citizen scientists, to help answer key questions about numerous health conditions.

The California Precision Medicine Consortium has assembled experts from across the state to develop a comprehensive approach to enrolling patients that ensures the richly varied populations of California are represented in the cohort.

“This is important because the idea behind having a million or more participants is that they’ll reflect not just California but also the United States, with the potential to be applied worldwide,” Anton-Culver said. “We hope they’ll be highly diverse and include Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders and other groups. Inclusion of these populations will help the PMI Cohort Program answer questions related to precision health covering the full natural history of disease and prevention, from susceptibility to early diagnosis to response to treatment and survivorship.”

Volunteers will be invited to contribute a range of data about themselves by completing questionnaires, granting access to their electronic health records, providing blood and urine samples, undergoing a physical evaluation and sharing real-time information via smartphones or wearable devices. Data collected will be subject to privacy and security safeguards.

When the PMI Cohort Program opens for enrollment, people may sign up through a participating health provider organization or directly, using the program’s website, smartphone application or call center. To learn more, visit www.nih.gov/precision-medicine-initiative-cohort-program.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

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