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The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center has announced the creation of a Personalized Medicine Institute, a structure they say is needed to use research from the center's eight-year-old Total Cancer Care program into real therapies and support that meet patients' needs during cancer treatment and survivorship.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

"The Total Cancer Protocol is a very large observational study," said current Moffitt CEO William S. Dalton, PhD, MD, who will become the new Institute's CEO in July. "This [Personalized Medicine Institute] allows us to organize the various components Total Cancer Care is using so we can do it in a more organized way." He will also focus on the growth of Moffitt's biotechnology subsidiary, M2Gen, which he founded.

WILLIAM S. DALTON, P... - Click to enlarge in new windowWILLIAM S. DALTON, PHD, MD

Alan F. List, MD, currently Executive Vice President/Physician-in-Chief at Moffitt and Physician-in-Chief/President of the Moffitt Medical Group, will advance to CEO of Moffitt; and Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH, an epidemiologist who is now Director of the Moffitt Research Institute, will become Center Director.

ALAN F. LIST, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowALAN F. LIST, MD
THOMAS A. SELLERS, P... - Click to enlarge in new windowTHOMAS A. SELLERS, PHD, MPH

In a telephone interview soon after the announcement last month, Dalton explained that Total Cancer Care follows the cancer patients through treatment and survival, collecting data about therapies and outcomes, gene expression, and psychological and psychosocial responses-"all things that patients might face while dealing with a diagnosis of cancer."


After data are collected, researchers use the information in clinical trials, and are able to contact patients if new diagnostics or therapies are developed that may benefit the patient. The new institute, which Dalton described as "a goal," more than a building or laboratory, will help Moffitt better utilize the data to deliver patients real benefits.


"The idea of the Personalized Medicine Institute is to create an information system that will allow everybody to share the patient's information in a de-identified way to always protect the patient's privacy. It's a way of putting in different sources of data-clinical data, molecular data, laboratory data, so that we can learn-and ultimately benefit the patient," he said.


Since the program's start at Moffitt, it has now expanded to 18 different sites in 10 states, with more than 85,000 patients enrolled in the database.


"It is one of the largest biorepositories of its kind," Dalton said. "We've developed the capability to query the database in real time so we can identify cohorts of patients so we can study them and learn from them."


The Institute will also foster collaborations between key health care providers and research centers to better facilitate advances. For example, earlier last month, Moffitt announced a partnership with Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and Florida Hospital (the state's largest hospital system)-the Personalized Medicine Partnership of Florida-with the primary goal of coordinating and expanding research.


The hope is that the Institute will allow the center to better, and more cost effectively, deliver therapies to patients that meet their specific needs. "A major goal is to generate evidence of what works best for whom, including new technologies and therapies," Dalton said. "If we don't do this, if we just integrate all these new technologies without evidence of whom it's helping, we will bankrupt the health care system.


"Moffitt's investment in Total Cancer Care has positioned us to realize the dream of cancer therapy based on the right treatment, for the right patient, at the right time," he continued, noting that the clinical trial matching process has been recognized by an issued patent, and that M2Gen is now partnering with Merck and other companies to launch the first clinical trials in which patients are recruited using the biorepository, enabled by a new information technology platform in partnership with Oracle-"This approach speeds the clinical trial process, giving cancer patients faster access to drugs that are a good match for their unique genetic characteristics."


-Sarah DiGiulio