June 17, 2014

UAB’s Personalized Medicine Institute will help reveal the best medicine for you

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nita limdiA new program formalizes UAB research and initiatives to tailor the selection and dosing of medications based on a patient’s genetic makeup and clinical characteristics to provide more effective therapies.

The UAB’s new Personalized Medicine Institute, or PMI, approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees June 13, will be housed in the School of Medicine and directed by Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Department of Neurology.

The PMI framework will enable researchers to ask questions regarding racial and ethnic disparities, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurosciences and other areas to expand UAB’s translational capacity for genomic discovery. “This program will continually differentiate us from our local and regional peers and make us a national player in the development of new treatment therapies based on our understanding of the human genome,” Limdi said.

Among the resources the PMI will create and manage is the BioBank — cache of DNA samples that will improve understanding of the ways genetic factors, lifestyle, behavior and environment interact to affect health. “It will provide UAB researchers a tangible advantage when competing for grant funding, especially in areas where we serve unique populations,” Limdi said.

Transplantation is one example. National kidney-transplant rates are disproportionately low for African-Americans; yet at UAB, one of the nation’s busiest kidney-transplant centers, more than half of all kidney transplants in the past 10 years were in African-Americans.

“Most research centers don’t have this wealth of data about minority populations,” said Limdi, who noted that breadth and depth enables UAB to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions in a racially diverse population.

The School of Medicine will dedicate funds that will enable UAB to retain faculty, recruit new physicians and scientists and build an administrative infrastructure to facilitate more federal and private research grants. Educating physicians, trainees and the broader biomedical community, including bioethicists, will build partnerships and improve the overall health of the population, Limdi says.