St. Jude to Receive $12 Million in Grants From NIH

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Mary Relling, PharmD

Investigators at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have received grants totaling more than $12 million from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) for a new Center for Precision Medicine in Leukemia and for the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium.

“This funding is essential for bringing together experts in pharmacogenomics and leukemia therapy for collaboration,” said the PGRN’s new Chair, Mary ­Relling, PharmD, who is also Chair of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Department at St. Jude. “Individually, we are all doing great work, but with this funding, we can work together to improve medication therapy for patients with leukemia and other diseases.”

St. Jude received one of three P50 grants awarded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the NIH, to establish specialized research centers for pharmacogenomics in precision medicine. The NIGMS has awarded a Center for Precision Medicine in Leukemia to Dr. Relling and her Coprincipal Investigator Mignon Loh, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology Oncology at the University of California San Francisco. The Center aims to find cures for acute leukemia by translating genomics into more effective and less toxic treatment. Scientists in the Center also intend to provide a paradigm for other diseases by integrating rapidly changing genomic methods and knowledge into precision medicine.

Dr. Relling co-leads the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium with Teri Klein, PhD, Director of PharmGKB at Stanford University. The Consortium’s goal is to provide up-to-date clinical guidelines for specific genes and drugs and to facilitate the use of genetic testing to guide prescribing of medications.       

“These grants are key elements of the NIH Pharmacogenomics Research Network, a network of scientific groups focused on understanding how a person’s genes affect his or her responses to medicines,” said NIGMS’ Rochelle M. Long, PhD, who directs the program. ■




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