Reengineering the clinical environment for precision medicine at UF Health
By Matt Splett
UF Health’s Personalized Medicine Program has a new name — the Precision Medicine Program — and is ushering in a new era of genetic medicine, with the introduction of a new leadership team and preemptive pharmacogenetics testing.
The program will launch a multigene pharmacogenetics panel developed by UF Health Pathology Laboratories. It will examine multiple drugs, multiple genes and, eventually, diseases to personalize drug therapy and disease risk assessment around an individual’s genetic profile.
Pharmacogenetics testing at UF Health to date has largely been reactive — a physician orders the test in response to a certain health condition or drug therapy. The program aims to move toward preemptive testing, which will allow a broad panel of genotype data to be stored in a patient’s electronic health record, or EHR. The information will be accessible throughout a patient’s lifetime and inform future drug therapies based on genetics. In addition, alerts will be built into the EHR, allowing clinicians to target the most appropriate medical therapies to an individual patient.
“Physicians will soon have access to potentially lifesaving information about a variety of common medications well before it is needed,” said Sonja Rasmussen, M.D., M.S., a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and the new director of precision health at UF Health.
Spearheading the expanded translation of genomic medicine into clinical practice is a new team led by Rasmussen as part of a Precision Health initiative being launched by the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute, or CTSI.
Supporting the efforts are more than a dozen precision medicine clinicians and researchers, led by program directors in Gainesville and Jacksonville.
Rhonda Cooper-DeHoff, Pharm.D., M.S., FAHA, FACC, an associate professor in the colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine, will be the director of precision medicine in Gainesville. Alex Parker, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville, will serve as the director of precision medicine in Jacksonville. Thomas Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., M.H.A., a professor of epidemiology, will serve as the director of precision public health.
David Nelson, M.D., interim senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF Health, and Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, co-founded the UF Health Personalized Medicine Program in 2011 as part of the UF CTSI and will move into advisory roles in the new leadership team. Michael-Clare-Salzler, M.D., a professor and chair of pathology in the UF College of Medicine, will round out the advisory team.
Johnson and Nelson were instrumental in securing UF Health’s selection in 2013 as one of the first sites funded by the National Institutes of Health Implementing Genomics in Practice, or IGNITE, network. The six research sites selected were tasked with incorporating genomic information into EHRs and developing clinical decision support. In 2018, NIH renewed UF Health’s funding in the IGNITE II network, with a base award of $1.8 million over five years. Johnson will continue as the principal investigator on that grant.