President’s Perspective: Breaking ground in genomics
Researchers have long imagined the potential of decoding DNA to unlock the mysteries of human disease and ultimately, create new treatments for those diseases. The field has already seen incredible progress since the mid 1970s, when Frederick Sanger developed early techniques for sequencing DNA, earning him a Nobel Prize. This paved the way for the eventual completion of the Human Genome Project, an international collaborative research project with the goal of mapping and understanding all of the genes in the human body to gain a comprehensive understanding of the structure, order and function of our genes.
It is one thing to study the human genome and learn about diseases, but to then also translate that knowledge and those findings into care and treatment—that is where the field of genomics is headed in the Texas Medical Center. Physicians and researchers here in the medical center continue to explore ways to use genomics to bring advanced diagnostic and potentially groundbreaking new therapies to the bedside.
As you will read in this issue of Pulse, our member institutions have the potential to transform the future of medicine by harnessing our DNA for diagnostics, therapies, and personalized care. This campus has a proven history in genomics: Baylor was responsible for technology that allowed for faster and cheaper mapping of an individual’s genome, MD Anderson is working on groundbreaking research in the complicated field of cancer genetics, and Texas Children’s Hospital is studying genetic factors in children with tumors while also setting up the infrastructure needed to fully integrate genomic testing into the clinical setting.
It is an exciting time for our city to be leading in medicine, and we are looking forward to welcoming, for the first time in the United States, the Human Genome Organization’s (HUGO) annual Human Genome Meeting in 2016. The event will take place here in Houston, February 28-March 2, and will bring together experts from around the world to explore the latest strategies and technologies for utilizing genomics in diagnosis and treatment.
Beyond this, we are anticipating the establishment of the future Texas Medical Center Genomics Institute, an initiative born from a multi-institutional commitment to collaboration and built into our strategic plan. The Institute will draw upon this campus’ foundation in clinical genomics, and aim to design solutions that will translate to patient care.