The mission of the Clinical & Translational Genome Research Institute (CTGRI) is to accelerate the pace of medical discovery to make everyone’s lives healthier and happier. CTGRI is dedicated to better treatments, more cures, and helping people live healthier lives through Precision Genomic Medicine.
CTGRI is working on making medications safer for children, as well as improving pain relief in both children and adults while reducing addiction potential. Through advanced genomic technologies, CTGRI is working on innovative new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, and many other conditions.
“We aim to discover. We aim to cure. We aim to save lives.”
Safer Medications for Children
Improved Pain Relief & Reduced Addictions
Innovative Treatments for Disease
For inquiries about CTGRI email Dr. Handley at DanielHandley@scuhs.edu.
Genomic medicine is now possible because of three major developments from the past two decades. Because of the Human Genome Project that was first completed in 2003, we have a complete roadmap of the human genetic code. As an added benefit, the technology available to sequence DNA has improved in leaps and bounds. DNA sequencing is now far less expensive and faster. Where determining the first human genome sequence required billions of dollars, multiple laboratories, and hundreds of scientists, now a complete human genome can be sequenced for less than one thousand dollars by one technician with a device no bigger than a household refrigerator. Further, because of the rapid advancement in computing power, software, and gene databases over the past decade, making sense of DNA sequence information is far faster, easier, and less expensive as well. This culmination of technological advances in all these areas has now laid the foundation for the practical application of DNA sequencing in medicine.
Traditionally, medical research and practice have largely considered a patient as being an “average person” out of some population of many individuals. Clinical studies and drug trials relied on statistical evaluation of large amounts of data distilled down into “summary statistics.” But we all know that we are all unique. None of us is an “average” person. Now that we have the technology to analyze each person’s unique DNA code and biochemical characteristics, we can start treating each person’s condition taking into account our individual genetic differences.
This approach now allows for the personalization of medicine to each person as a unique individual – an approach now called “individualized” or “precision” medicine. Those terms all mean the same thing: analyzing a person’s unique characteristics, and tailoring treatment to a specific person instead of some hypothetical “average” person. This approach isn’t speculative or “fringe” science. It’s already revolutionizing our approach to medicine.
Read about the White House’s Precision Medicine Initiative.
There are already some examples of Precision Genomic Medicine in practical applications:
Unfortunately, precision genomic medicine is not yet widely available to patients. But making it more widely available to everyone is exactly what we’re trying to accomplish. There is a lot to do, but these are the efforts we see as essential in ensuring that your physician has access to these tools to improve your health care:
Clinical studies in nearly every area of medicine are still needed to help make new discoveries that can help patients. While there is already some knowledge that can be implemented today, much more research remains to be done. We still are only on the threshold of understanding the genetic basis for many diseases. But with new DNA sequencing technologies and a precision medicine approach, we believe that the pace of medical discovery and the road to better treatments and cures can now be developed much more quickly.
In order to get new technologies and treatments in the hands of physicians, clinical trials are needed to provide definitive evidence that these advances actually improve patient outcomes and are safe. No matter how promising a new discovery is in the laboratory, it must be demonstrated under carefully controlled conditions using patient populations. To be able to get new discoveries out of the laboratory, into the hands of physicians, and into widespread practice with patients, stringently conducted clinical trials are absolutely necessary.
Clinical studies are necessary but alone are not adequate to ensure that new medical discoveries can be adopted widely by the medical community. Research must be done with the conscious goal that any discovery or technological advance must at the end of the day improve the lives of patients. Translation of discoveries and technologies into practice requires a great deal of research and development so that the advance can be made into practical, usable tools by health care providers. A huge scientific breakthrough by itself is of little value in medicine unless and until it can be transformed into a practical solution that health care providers can use in their daily work.
We wish to raise awareness throughout the medical community about the benefits of Precision Genomic Medicine. Through professional development workshops and symposia on Precision Genomic Medicine, we wish to help ensure that all health care professionals remain on the cutting edge of knowledge and technology that can help improve patient care.
We also know because this field is advancing so rapidly, a large proportion of the health care community will have much more to learn about the human genome and its connections with health. Medical technologists will have to understand more about the underlying technology. More professionals will be required to help with the clinical interpretation of genomic information. We, therefore, aim to support the more widespread adoption of Precision Genomic Medicine through developing formal educational programs in association with Florida Gulf Coast University’s Department of Health Sciences and our medical and professional society partners.
Finally, we feel another important area of effort is to raise more awareness and understanding of Personalized Genomic Medicine with the public. We intend to hold workshops and symposia to help empower patients, caregivers, and the loved ones of anyone afflicted with disease.
We believe that every young person deserves to have a healthy childhood free from disease, disability, or pain. Our research is aimed at speeding the transfer of new discoveries, treatments, and cures out of the research laboratories and into the hands of pediatricians and other specialists.
Our initiatives range from helping make medications safer and more effective for children to helping provide new insights and tools to better understand and treat autism. One of our major initiatives is research aimed at improving ADHD/ADD treatments.
One of the most challenging and increasingly prevalent health issues is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be a serious issue for both our military veterans and civilians, including first-responders, law enforcement officers, and others who have experienced traumatic events. It is a major public health issue. An estimated 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults aged 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) have PTSD during the course of a given year. We are researching improved methods to diagnose and treat PTSD guided by advanced genomic technologies.
Personalized genomic medicine has the potential to prevent and cure many of the diseases from which so many suffer. We aim to make this medical technology available to everyone, regardless of social or economic status. We, therefore, wish to integrate cutting-edge technology into community health programs so that everyone can have access to new medical breakthroughs.
We recognize that to make new treatments and cures available to patients, health care professionals must be kept up to date in their understanding of the latest technology and practices. To make personalized genomic medicine available to as many people as possible, we understand that this also requires a 21st-century health care workforce.
We, therefore, are creating programs to educate clinical laboratory technologists and other health care professionals in personalized genomic medicine in association with Florida Gulf Coast University’s College of Health Professions and Social Work. From formal technology education programs to workshops and symposia for physicians and allied health care professionals, we aim to spread awareness and a better understanding of precision genomic medicine throughout the medical communities.