NIH Awards $29M to Renew Scripps Translational Science Institute

Xconomy San Diego — 

[Corrected 10/21/13, 3:45 pm to show Topol sought grant after arriving in San Diego.] Federal funding for the Scripps Translational Science Institute, which cardiologist Eric Topol won after he came to San Diego seven years ago as the chief academic officer of Scripps Health and a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), is being renewed.

The institute, which began in 2008 with $20 million in Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) funding, will get $29 million over the next five years, according to a joint statement issued today by Scripps Health and TSRI. The increased size of the award reflects the institute’s expanding focus on wireless health and drug discovery.

“We are thrilled to have the NIH [National Institutes of Health] support us in our ambitious efforts to transform the future of medicine by focusing on genomics, wireless technology, and bioinformatics,” Topol, the institute’s director, says in the statement. Topol left the Cleveland Clinic to join Scripps in 2006, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) started the CTSA program. Topol subsequently applied for the grant that resulted in the formation of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, where he is director.

The federal program was established in 2006 as a way to realize the promise of “personalized medicine” by combining academic and clinical research in genomic medicine in regional centers throughout the United States. Scripps says it is the only one of 61 centers in the consortium that is not part of a university. As my colleague Luke Timmerman has noted, the term “personalized medicine” has fallen out of favor since then, and practitioners vary in their preference for “individualized” or “precision” medicine.

The concept remains the same, however, as scientists and physicians advance the use of genomic sequencing, proteomics, and other tools to tailor treatments for individual patients.

Institutions funded through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program work to transform the local, regional, and national environment to increase the efficiency and speed of clinical and translational research across the country.