NIH awards $11.6M to Nashville med schools, U of Miami for precision medicine center

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a five-year, $11.6 million grant to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Meharry Medical College both in Nashville, Tenn., and the University of Miami to create a new center that will conduct precision medicine research to eliminate health disparities, particularly among African-Americans and Latinos.

Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, will be one of the principal investigators at the Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health. Dr. Wilkins said, "For precision medicine to reach its full potential we must develop new ways to integrate social, cultural, environmental and biological data to accurately identify strategies to prevent and treat disease among all populations, especially those with disproportionately poor health outcomes."

The collaborative center will include core programs concentrated on constructing and sustaining a regional consortium. Three projects that will be funded by the center include one to develop new statistical models to predict the risk of population disparities regarding cervical cancer, a second will focus on the genetic risk factors associated with asthma and preterm birth and a third will examine person-specific obesity treatment for Latino and African-American men.

Dr. Wilkins added, "If precision medicine will be used to improve population health and lead to health equity, we must address ongoing barriers to research including issues around trust and genomic health literacy."

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