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Expertise in Precision Health
Learn about the Precision Health Initiative at IU School of Medicine, selected as the first recipient of funding from the IU Grand Challenges Program.
Bruce Lamb sitting at a computer

Precision Health

The Precision Health Initiative includes six fundamental pillars critical to the successful design and implementation of precision health. There are five selected clinical areas that build upon strengths of Indiana University and provide the opportunity to develop innovative research programs to support the implementation of transformative precision health for the state of Indiana. The $120 million Precision Health Initiative investment has generated substantial impact within the research, clinical and educational missions and the infrastructure that has been built will continue to drive further innovation and impact.

The multi-disciplinary team of researchers and clinicians that make up the IU Precision Health Initiative spans faculty expertise across IU School of Medicine, IU Bloomington and IUPUI. The initiative is led by principal investigator Tatiana Foroud, PhD, IU School of Medicine executive associate dean for research affairs and IU associate vice president for research and clinical affairs.

Precision Health Initiative Podcasts

IU School of Medicine sponsors a monthly podcast focused on diseases that IU researchers aim to cure, treat or prevent. The podcast, produced by the award-winning show "Healthcare Triage," are anchored by IU School of Medicine faculty member Aaron E. Carroll, MD.


Because health is personal

Hear about the impact of the Precision Health Initiative from Liana Apostolova, MD, and Mary Estrada, a patient with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Working to Cure and Prevent Diseases Prevalent in IndianaWorking to Cure and Prevent Diseases Prevalent in Indiana

As an IU Grand Challenge, the Precision Health Initiative’s success will be measured by the tangible impact it has on Indiana Health—that is, how much this research improves the lives of people living in Indiana. To focus their efforts, Precision Health researchers have identified diseases with particularly negative impacts in the state.

According to 2017 data from the Indiana State Department of Health, about 2.4 million Indiana residents—or two out of every five people living in Indiana—will eventually develop cancer. That’s why Precision Health researchers have ambitious plans to develop curative therapies for at least one cancer. Disease research teams have concentrated their efforts specifically on multiple myeloma, triple negative breast cancer and childhood sarcoma. Through the IU Precision Health Initiative, the IU School of Medicine’s partner hospital system, Indiana University Health, will soon administer CAR T-cell therapy to its first adult patient, who is a relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma patient. IU Health is now the only approved site in Indiana to administer FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies, which are widely considered by some as a cure for certain types of leukemia and known for improved remission rates in certain lymphomas. Pediatric patients are expected to be able to receive CAR T-cell therapy as early as this fall at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, as a result of the IU Precision Health Initiative.

In addition to curing diseases, IU School of Medicine researchers would prefer to prevent them. Chronic diseases are among the most prevalent and costly health problems in Indiana. According to the State Department of Health, Indiana has significantly higher rates than the national median for a variety of chronic diseases, with a large majority of the state’s residents affected by one or more chronic health issues. To help combat this poor state of health, Precision Health researchers are focused on developing precision-based strategies for the treatment and, ultimately, the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes—both chronic diseases and among the top seven leading causes of death in Indiana in 2016.

Growing Research Capabilities and Enhancing ExpertiseGrowing Research Capabilities and Enhancing Expertise

The IU Precision Health Initiative incorporates a multi-disciplinary view of health, illustrated by multiple pillars of scientific investigation in genomic medicine; cell, gene and immunotherapies; chemical biology and biotherapeutics; data and informatics; and psychosocial, behavioral and ethics. Researchers apply a team science approach to this model by taking identified diseases through each pillar until the disease is treated, cured or prevented. Partnerships and processes established through the initiative will help inform and foster collaborative research across IU.

As part of the Precision Health Initiative, IU School of Medicine has opened its first Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Facility for cellular and gene therapy, which allows IU scientists to research and develop new cell, gene and immunotherapy-based trials regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of our patients. In addition, the school has acquired two Illumina NovaSeq 6000 Sequencing Systems, which can perform a staggering 200 whole genome sequences per week, bringing the most powerful genome sequencing capabilities in the Midwest to IU.

These exciting new facilities, tools and recruits build on IU School of Medicine’s existing expertise in basic science and clinical research. 

Faculty Spotlight

The IU Precision Health Initiative has played an integral role in recruiting top scientists to Indiana. Among 33 new faculty hires, with more to come, Kun Huang, PhD, an internationally recognized scientific and academic leader in bioinformatics and computing, was recruited to lead the IU Precision Health Initiative’s data and informatics pillar, and Michael Weiss, MD, PhD, MBA, a prolific biochemistry investigator and physician-scientist, was hired as the leader of the initiative’s chemical biology and biotherapeutics pillar.

38697-Huang, Kun

Kun Huang, PhD

Assistant Dean for Data Sciences

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41466-Weiss, Michael

Michael A. Weiss, MD, PhD

Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

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Other Precision Health Initiative partners include IU Health, Eli Lilly and Company, Eskenazi Health, Regenstrief Institute, Indiana CTSI, IU Rural Health Engagement Center, IU Network Science Institute and LifeOmic.

Interview an Expert

Schedule an interview with an IU School of Medicine faculty member or request materials and resources about precision health research by contacting the IU School of Medicine media relations team.