Sanford Health Funding Helps Personalized Medicine Initiative Soar

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Personalized Medicine Initiative made a giant leap forward in 2017, thanks to a $7 million donation from philanthropist Denny Sanford and Sanford Health. This transformative gift is fast-tracking the hospital’s commitment to harnessing the latest developments in science, genomics and technology to speed effective treatments for pediatric conditions, all with the goal of optimizing benefits and minimizing side effects.  

During 2017, the hospital made significant strides in addressing personalized medicine objectives established in collaboration with Sanford Health, including:

Biobank Development: The hospital established the framework for a biobank for use in obtaining and storing tissue to support the study of both health and disease over time. The biobank will collect samples and health information from volunteers regardless of heath history. Individuals who consent are contributing to ongoing health research. A key element is the collection of genomic information to foster greater understanding of the health needs and variances within the Latino and Hispanic communities, with the ultimate goal of improving and personalizing medical delivery across ethnically diverse populations.

Pediatric Genomic Medicine Research:  2017 gave rise to a collaboration with Rady Children’s Hospital and Sanford Health  that enabled Nicklaus Children’s to begin offering two genomic medicine research protocols in early 2018. The protocols are aimed at more effectively diagnosing and treating children with unexplained illnesses.

The goal of genomic medicine is to develop a precision care plan for each child based on determining an underlying genetic diagnosis. The collaboration between Nicklaus Children’s and Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine offers whole genome sequencing (WGS) to children in two settings:
  • Acutely ill patients with undetermined illnesses in Nicklaus Children’s three intensive care units (neonatal, pediatric and cardiac). These children will be eligible for rapid whole genome sequencing (rWGS) testing to provide the fastest possible results.  
  • Children with chronic undiagnosed medical conditions. These children, often described as being on a “diagnostic odyssey,” have typically visited multiple specialists in search of a definitive diagnosis to support treatment. 
Through the collaboration, Nicklaus Children’s sends patient blood samples to Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine in San Diego. Whole genome sequencing, bioinformatics analysis, and initial clinical interpretation will occur in San Diego and the experts at Nicklaus Children’s will use the results to care for children in Miami.   
Knowledge and Awareness Campaign: Advancing awareness of personalized (genomic) medicine among clinicians, patients, families and the broader community is another priority of the Personalized Medicine Initiative. Enhanced understanding and awareness will create a climate in which patients are more aware and receptive to the benefits of personalized medical care plans. Detailed plans were developed to communicate themes to internal and external audiences, along with protocols to assess impact of communications initiatives.

For more information on the Personalized Medicine Initiative, please call 786-624-3514.