Historic NIH Award for Precision Medicine Research

By:
University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences and Banner Health have been awarded a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to participate in the Precision Medicine Initiative® (PMI) Cohort Program, which aims to enroll one million U.S. participants to improve the prevention and treatment of disease based on individual differences in lifestyle, environment and genetics. The award, which totals $43.3 million over five years, is the largest NIH peer-reviewed grant in Arizona history.

The UA-Banner team will recruit 150,000 participants in the Southwest region, Alaska and Wyoming over five years. Using the data from the PMI Cohort Program, researchers across the country will study questions about health and disease, including ways to significantly reduce health disparities. The inclusion of American Native/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino participants, among other populations historically underrepresented in research, will provide insights to disease prevention and treatment. 

“Our state and the diversity of the population we serve are unique, and we are committed to participating in this initiative to make it a huge success,” says Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, UA senior vice president for health sciences, the Dr. Merlin K. DuVal Professor of Medicine and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. 

The UA-Banner team is part of a network of regional health care provider organizations (HPOs) participating in this effort to understand the factors contributing to individual health and disease. HPOs will engage their patients in the PMI Cohort Program, build research protocols and plans, enroll interested individuals and collect essential health data and biological specimens with privacy and security safeguards. The data will serve as a rich scientific resource for precision medicine research. 

Funding through the UA-Banner award also will spur the creation of new health care jobs in Arizona, including clinical trials recruitment specialists, health care information technology data analysts and programmers.

“The Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program award serves as a wonderful example of how the strengths of Banner Health and the University of Arizona Health Sciences can work together for the benefit of patients,” says Kathy Bollinger, executive vice president of Banner – University Medicine. “Participating in this initiative is exactly the type of collaboration we envisioned when we entered into our agreement with the University.”