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Adrian Lee, PhD, Named Director of the Institute for Precision Medicine at Pitt


Adrian Lee, PhD

Adrian Lee, PhD

Breast cancer researcher Adrian Lee, PhD, has been named Director of the Institute for Precision Medicine (IPM), a joint effort by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the University of Pittsburgh to move biomedical research into personalized well-being and clinical care. 

Dr. Lee, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at Pitt, and Director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, noted that the overarching goal of the Institute is to help researchers and clinicians discover features about an individual’s risk of disease, select best treatments, predict most likely response, and move these insights into clinical practice. “Our approach is aimed at answering the most important question about precision medicine—that is, under what circumstances do these insights lead to better patient outcomes and reduced health care costs?” he said.

In addition to studying the hormonal regulation of breast cancer, Dr. Lee is part of the team working to implement the technology infrastructure needed for precision medicine. He succeeds Associate Vice Chancellor Jeremy Berg, PhD, who will remain as a senior adviser to the Institute, founded in 2013 and formerly known as the Institute for Personalized Medicine.

Under Dr. Lee, the Institute will build on a host of precision medicine efforts already underway at Pitt and UPMC, including implementation of new clinical trials and procurement of significant National Institutes of Health (NIH) and state funding.

In July, the NIH announced an award, led by Pitt’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, that could top $46 million over 5 years to build the infrastructure and partnerships needed to launch the Cohort Program of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative—a landmark effort to engage more than 1 million U.S. participants in providing clinical, genomic, and other data that could lead to new ways of preventing and treating disease.

Goals of the Institute

Potential IPM initiatives over the next 5 years include:

  • Building upon current Pitt and UPMC efforts to share clinical, tissue, and genomic data, enabling researchers to perform precision medicine research. The Institute also will seek out new ventures with companies and other academic centers.
  • Positioning Pitt and UPMC for future federal and commercial precision medicine efforts. The Institute will work with the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance—backed by UPMC, Pitt, and Carnegie Mellon University—and UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, to coordinate and help fund precision medicine research. 
  • Leveraging clinical data and tissue collections at Pitt and UPMC. For instance, large-scale machine learning will be used on more than 288,000 unique cases in the UPMC Cancer Registry to identify predictors of disease prognosis and outcomes.
  • Developing education programs and policy in precision medicine.
  • Facilitating the testing of precision medicine in clinical trials. This work will be integrated with studies of patient-reported outcomes and health costs to help develop new models of care. ■


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