(May 25, 2012—Toronto, ON) World-renowned experts in personalized medicine will convene on May 31 at Mount Sinai Hospital—a designated provincial lead in personalized medicine—to discuss the significance, opportunities and challenges in this emerging field.
Personalized medicine—aimed at enabling earlier diagnoses and customized treatments based on an individual’s unique genetic makeup—holds potential to transform the delivery of health care. To better define this growing area, the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital has invited leading international experts to a symposium on personalized medicine.
The event was organized by award-winning geneticist Dr. Kathy Siminovitch, Senior Investigator at the Hospital’s Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and Director of the Fred A. Litwin & Family Centre in Genetic Medicine and the newly established Mouth Sinai Hospital Office of Personalized Genomics and Innovative Medicine.
Dr. Siminovitch’s research focus is on the genetics of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, as well as the translation of new genomics knowledge into personalized diagnostics and therapeutics for improved health outcomes. Her team is developing a prototype for personalized medical care of rheumatoid arthritis patients that will then be applied to the management of other autoimmune diseases (i.e., diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease), cancer and cardiac disease, maternal and infant health, as well as other disease foci of Mount Sinai Hospital.
Specifically, Dr. Siminovitch and her colleagues in the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases are creating new informatics systems that allow large volumes of genetic and clinical data to be integrated and analyzed so as to pinpoint genes that confer risk of rheumatoid arthritis, and influence the course and outcomes of this illness. The genetic sequencing technology used to analyze patients provides a powerful system for identifying disease genes and guiding the use of genetic information in clinical practice.
The sophisticated science underpinning Dr. Siminovitch’s research—and the pressing need for a personalized approach to clinical care—has already garnered attention from the provincial and federal governments as well as the international medical community.
“We are delighted our symposium will feature so many international stars in personalized medicine, giving us a unique opportunity to showcase the power of genomics science to improve health care delivery,” says Dr. Siminovitch. “I anticipate this symposium will give many new insights into the science underpinning personalized medicine that will help physicians and many others involved in health care delivery to better understand the emerging field of clinical genomics.”
The personalized medicine symposium will include presentations by Drs. Michael Hayden (UBC), Heidi Rehm (Harvard Medical School), Eileen O’Reilly (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), Isaac Kohane (Harvard Medical School), Michael Snyder (Stanford University), David Huntsman (UBC) and Dan Roden (Vanderbilt University Medical Center).
Personalized medicine is aimed at optimizing an individual’s health care based on an understanding of their genetic makeup. New knowledge of the genes that cause disease and influence individual responses to an illness allows physicians to make more informed health decisions, intervene earlier in the course of a patient’s disease, and tailor therapy to a person’s individual genetic “signature.”
Mount Sinai Hospital has launched a personalized health initiative aimed at translating the wealth of new genetic information to improved health care delivery. According to Dr. Siminovitch, the director of this initiative, “The goal is to bring new capabilities in DNA sequencing and informatics technologies to the clinic to ‘personalize’ patient care and achieve better health outcomes.”