The Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) serves as the expert base for the principles and practice of genomic medicine, including genetics and genomics research, clinical care, and outreach and education directed at genomics-based personalized healthcare. Research conducted at GMI focuses on both translational and clinical human genetics and genomic science, meaning discoveries made in the laboratory will advance the field of precision medicine and, ultimately, improve the quality of patient care.
GMI, founded over a decade ago by Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chairperson, is specifically designed with open laboratory space in order to enhance genomics research. Researchers work together with clinicians in the clinical arm of the Institute — the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare — as well as the Genomic Medicine Biorepository, which processes and stores thousands of patient samples and biological molecules linked to a relational database, and the Genomics Core facility, which utilizes cutting-edge genomics technology for multiple researchers within the Cleveland Clinic and externally.
The Institute offers a unique training program to young investigators who wish to apply genomics to their research or medical practice. GMI also coordinates genomic research and practice across many disease areas to enhance interdisciplinary research and healthcare.
Congratulations to three faculty members of the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) on their recent promotions. David Serre, PhD, Angela Ting, PhD, and Bin Zhang, PhD, have all been promoted from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor of Molecular Medicine in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. These appointments represent a major landmark in their academic careers and we wish them continued success.
GMI is pleased to announce that Charis Eng, MD, PhD, and Kevin Hicks, PharmD, PhD, will be the national coordinating investigators for UPGRADE (Utility of PharmacoGenomics for Reducing Adverse Drug Effects). UPGRADE is a multicenter registry sponsored by CompanionDx™ that includes up to 279,000 patients enrolled at up to 2,000 clinical sites.
The primary objective is to assess whether pharmacogenomics testing leads to clinically meaningful changes in a patient’s medication regimen.
“This exemplifies how academic-private partnerships can rapidly achieve meaningful translational research to support the practice of precision medicine,” said Dr. Eng.
Congratulations to Pauline Funchain, MD, an Ambrose Monell Clinical Cancer Genomics Fellow in the Eng Lab who received a 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation ASCO Merit Award. This award recognizes exceptional scientific merit of research conducted by oncology fellows and residents early in their careers, and encourages attendance at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting. Pauline attended the Chicago meeting in June to present her abstract titled “Hereditary Implications of Somatic Tumor Testing.”
GMI is pleased to announce that Amanda Tilot received the 2015 Doctoral Excellence Award in Molecular Medicine from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. This award was established to recognize outstanding graduate students in PhD programs. Successful recipients exhibited exceptional qualities in research, scholarship, service and collaboration.
Amanda earned her PhD in Dr. Charis Eng’s lab, and has accepted a postdoctoral position at the Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, beginning in May, 2015.
Dr. Charis Eng, who received her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago, was presented with the 2015 Distinguished Service Award at the Alumni Awards Reception in Chicago. This award, presented by the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine, recognizes alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the Division of Biological Sciencesz/Pritzker School of Medicine and to the University of Chicago by demonstrating outstanding leadership in and making significant contributions to the biological sciences or medicine through research, clinical care, health service administration, public and professional service, or civic duties.
Ron Rerko, Director, Translational Development, was invited to participate on a panel at the MidAmerica Healthcare Venture Forum held in Chicago in May, 2015. MedCity Media and Mid-America Healthcare Investors Network (MHIN) connected investors with corporate business development executives to highlight investment opportunities with promising start-up companies. The panel examined recent and anticipated innovation in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine, as well as promising areas for investment.
The Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) and the Center for Clinical Genomics are excited to announce a broad research collaboration with Human Longevity Inc., (HLI), Dr. J. Craig Venter’s company in San Diego, CA. HLI is using genomic sequencing, the human microbiome, proteomics and advanced computing to tackle aging-related human diseases. Under the master agreement negotiated by Dr. Charis Eng, Chairperson, GMI, the initial project is in collaboration with Drs. Wilson Tang and Stan Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic to discover new disease-causing genes and disease pathways associated with heart disease. Read the Story
Dr. Eng notes a great deal of potential moving forward to collect and sequence thousands more samples. “Cleveland Clinic has these precious samples of DNA linked to well-annotated clinical information, and Human Longevity has the firepower with lots of the newest, most cutting-edge sequencers.” Dr. Tang also emphasizes the importance of this joint venture as a major step in building the infrastructure for clinical genomic medicine. “This unique opportunity brings clinicians and researchers from all disciplines to tackle some of the biggest challenges in our daily clinical practices using these powerful yet sophisticated technologies. We are hopeful that this also brings us a step closer to applying these tools at the bedside.”
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Hardis Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI) and Director of its clinical arm, the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, was recently interviewed by 19 Action News on the topic of “BRCA Testing: Am I at Risk?”. Actress Angelina Jolie recently brought this particular genetic screening for breast and/or ovarian cancer to the forefront. After testing positive for a BRCA1 mutation, she chose to have a double mastectomy and eventually had both her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. The measures she chose were all in the name of being proactive, supported by research evidence, which Dr. Eng feels very strongly about.
Her advice for anyone who is concerned about their risk is to craft an accurate and thorough family health history and speak with a geneticist or genetic counselor. Genetic counselors are trained to help you determine which screenings may benefit you and protect your future health. Dr. Eng believes that too much inappropriate testing of women without the clinical red flags that denote increased inherited risk of cancer is dangerous. She worries that it can yield too many false positive or false negative test results, creating either unnecessary emotional turmoil or unwarranted relief, when there really should be extra attention and care.
“The more we abuse testing in the wrong situation, the more expensive it will be . . . we have to be good stewards of good genetics practice.” In the future, BRCA1 and BRCA2 screening may become a routine part of care once you reach a certain age, but Dr. Eng feels our system is not yet ready for mass testing. In the meantime, taking preventative steps like family health histories and genetic counseling can protect more women from cancer.
We are proud to announce that Brandie Leach, MS, a Licensed Genetic Counselor in the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare (CPGH), the clinical arm of the Genomic Medicine Institute, was elected President of the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Colorectal Cancer. This group aims to advance research on several rare forms of inherited colorectal cancers, as well as improve clinical care for patients and families affected by these diseases.
Ms. Leach specializes in cancer genetic counseling and this appointment marks the first time a genetic counselor has been elected President of this group. Genetic counselors are healthcare professionals with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling.
Angela Ting, PhD, a Principal Investigator in the GMI, led the Lerner Research Institute’s (LRI) second annual “LRI Science Day” for students from Citizens Leadership Academy (CLA), a local charter school. Students in grades 6-8 were asked to submit a contest entry in the form of an essay, drawing, poem or photograph about their interest in science and medicine. From this competition, 50 students were invited to attend.
Fellow GMI personnel also took an active role in this popular event. David Serre, PhD, spoke on his beginnings in science and the state of the Cuyahoga River, while Jessica Mester, MS, Licensed Genetic Counselor, spoke to a group on genetic inheritance. Competitive DNA extraction was also performed by research technologists Todd Romigh, MS, and Sirena Meade, MS and PhD candidate Lamis Yehia, MS.
GMI is proud to be a part of this outreach program, which encourages students from underprivileged backgrounds to pursue a career in science, while raising awareness in our surrounding communities of the diverse and exciting research going on in LRI and CCF. Dr. Ting explains that many scientists and physicians say they became intrigued by science at an early age, and she hopes this program will foster that interest in young children. “Different kids are fascinated by different things – we try to give them a broad, hands-on experience, and we hope to connect with them.”
The Lerner Research Institute’s Genomics Core, under the scientific direction of Charis Eng, MD, PhD, has been awarded a $600,000 NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant (Dr. Eng is the PI on the grant) to significantly upgrade its next generation sequencing capabilities.
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute Chair, recently published a paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology entitled “Second Malignant Neoplasms in Patients With Cowden Syndrome With Underlying Germline PTEN Mutations.”
Micheala Aldred, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute, was invited to be the “featured speaker” and conclude the session on Epigenetics in Pulmonary Hypertension: Novel Mechanisms and Targets at the 2014 American Thoracic Society Conference. Dr. Aldred’s presentation was entitled “Epigenetics: A changeable landscape.”
Amanda Tilot, doctoral student in the Molecular Medicine program, was named the winner of the F. Merlin Bumpus Junior Investigator Award. This award highlights excellence in research by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in both basic science and clinical areas.
The Friends of the LRI event highlights discoveries and innovations in treating specific disease areas and provides a unique opportunity to engage one-on-one with some of the world’s leading scientists.
Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute and Thomas Frazier II, PHD, Director of the Children’s Hospital Center for Autism are working to investigate autism and genetic related factors. Dr. Eng has discovered a gene mutation that predisposes people to certain kinds of cancer that can also be linked with autism. To learn more about this exciting research, watch interview here.
Dr. Charis Eng has achieved much during her busy life. Being a woman in the field of medicine and medical research has not always been easy, especially when it comes to being mentored.