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9/30/2009
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Personalized Health Project Integrates E-Medical Data, DNA

The Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaboration platform will be used to develop treatments tailored to patients' genetic and other health-related profile.

Medical research takes a lot of time. Clinical trials and the unfolding of outcomes, like whether a sick patient is cured of an ailment and suffers no reoccurrence months or years later, can take decades. But the collection, sharing, and analysis of data involved with medical research should get much easier.

The seeds for significant advancements are being planted now with the push to digitize medical records and other clinical information. In the years to come, there will be undoubtedly many more -- and much richer sources -- of electronic patient data to help medical research efforts.

Digitized records about populations of patients -- like those suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma, degenerative disease like Alzheimer's, and potentially terminal illnesses like cancer -- could aid doctors and researchers in more quickly identifying the best candidates for clinical trials, and help uncover patterns and new insights based on information that in the past might've been forever buried in paper records.

Of course, privacy concerns of patients are legit. No one wants unauthorized snoops digging into personal health information. But even the collection of aggregate, de-indentified data from e-medical records -- with the consent of patients -- will help researchers in the years to come.

Some of the most powerful discoveries will undoubtedly come from analyzing data from patients' e-medical record, plus their genomic information. Personalized medicine promises to use that data analysis to better match patients with the most effective treatments based on individuals' genetic profiles, medical histories, and their other health issues.

Such research is underway in places like Coriell Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit, biomedical research institution and a leading biobank resource for human cells and DNA, which is working on a national genomics project with Ohio State University Medical Center, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Cooper University Hospital, Virtua Health, and Helix Health.

The Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaboration will create a secure Web-based technology environment for about 100,000 patients who are being recruited by the project partners to provide DNA samples and other medical information.

The goal of the project is to better understand how patients' personal genomic information, along with other information contained in e-medical records, can be used to make better decisions about an individual's healthcare. Researchers and healthcare providers will use the platform for developing new medical and therapeutic treatments tailored to patients' genetic and other health-related data.

"CPMC is pioneering the integration of genotypic information and risk reporting into the e-health record," explained Margaret Keller, associate professor, Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J.

"The goal is to supplement clinical-based patient data that exists in the EHR, with genetic information," Keller said in an e-mail interview with InformationWeek. Much of this integration will come with the usage of the health industry's HL7 data exchange standard, she said.

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