Combining the research capabilities of UW Medicine, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Seattle Children's Hospital, the institute will focus on discoveries that improve patient outcomes while minimizing the harmful side effects of treatments and therapies. Among its first projects is an effort to catalog the roughly sixty thousand possible mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and identify those that confer the greatest risk of breast cancer — information that can be used by young women to make informed decisions about their health.
"A typical patient doesn't really exist, yet for more than a century, medicine has been focused on diagnosing and treating typical patients," said Jay Shendure, a professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who will direct the BBI Institute. "Precision medicine aims to use an individual patient's unique genetic code to more effectively diagnose and individually treat that person. Through both basic science and the translation of new advances to the clinic, the institute will accelerate this process."
Part of the commitment is a bequest from Costco co-founder Jeffrey Brotman, who died in August. "What attracted Jeff to precision medicine is that it will be a total transformation of how doctors can treat and heal," said Dan Baty, founder of private equity firm Columbia Pacific Management. "And what attracted all of us is that the three partner organizations have the expertise and the collaborative culture to make precision medicine a success.
(Photo credit: University of Washington)