Marshfield Clinic Research Institute established the new Center for Precision Medicine Research effective Nov. 1. The new Center will combine the key strengths from the Center for Human Genetics and Center for Computational and Biomedical Informatics.

Human Genetics has traditionally focused on genetic research, while Computational and Biomedical Informatics has traditionally focused on using informatics to improve patient care. The Center for Precision Medicine Research aligns with Marshfield Clinic Health System’s priority to implement precision medicine initiatives.

The Research Institute has been a national leader in precision medicine research and is uniquely positioned to garner international recognition. The Health System also has invested more than $2.2 million in the last 18 months to support the growth of precision medicine. Together both are working towards treating individuals based on their specific lifestyle, environment and genes - instead of treating everyone the same way.

Ever since the first human genome was mapped in 2003, researchers have been discovering how DNA impacts our health. Researchers are just now beginning to use that information to affect patient care through precision medicine.

“What we know about genes is only the tip of the iceberg, but we have enough information now to begin to translate that small amount of information from basic research into improvements in health care,” said Murray Brilliant, Ph.D., interim center director for Precision Medicine Research.

Much of the genetic research for the past 15 years has been trying to understand the genetic underpinnings of disease – being able to predict disease risk and outcomes, and how patients respond to medications.

“The opportunities for precision medicine to impact health care are endless,” said Dr. Susan Turney, Health System CEO. “We are excited about the advancements we have already made, and the possibilities this new Center presents are truly limitless.”

The Research Institute has been at the forefront of precision medicine research since starting the Personalized Medicine Research Project in 2002. This project successfully gathered health and genetic information from more than 20,000 patients. It has allowed for dozens of studies and medical breakthroughs since its creation.

The Research Institute also has implemented the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program in Wisconsin. By partnering with one million diverse people who share information about themselves over many years, All of Us will enable research to more precisely prevent and treat a variety of health conditions.

“We have a long history of revolutionary research with genetics, bioinformatics and data science led by nationally well-known scientists and clinician researchers,” said Dr. Amit Acharya, executive director of the Research Institute. “Combined with key infrastructures like our electronic health records, bio-banking efforts and the epidemiological cohorts, investing and establishing this new translational research center focused on precision medicine was a very logical next step. This not only enables us as a health system to provide high quality, individual specific care, but also bolsters our ability to attract national and international experts in the field.”

This new Center will be an integral part of our learning health system – where data from our own patients informs basic research and reveals ways we can improve care, said Dr. Narayana Murali, Marshfield Clinic executive director of Marshfield Clinic. “We always have and will continue to bring research from bench to bedside.”