Genomic medicine and autism, ADHD: Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, Genomic Medicine Institute (GMI), was interviewed for a March 8 2012 article in Crain’s Cleveland Business regarding the GMI, from its formation in 2005 to future plans. The GMI is unique in that it not only conducts research on genes that influence disease, but also works with patients (4,000 in 2011 alone!) who are affected by alterations in these genes. Beyond that, GMI also reaches out to physicians and welcomes collaboration on human genome-related research. One example of such a collaboration is evident in a new clinical trial aiming to find genetic markers for autism, as well as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Eng and Thomas Frazier, PhD, Center for Pediatric Behavioral Health, are leading the study, which will enroll 600 children and is funded by IntegraGen. The goal is to be able to diagnose autism spectrum disorders earlier and more conclusively so that better treatments and improved outcomes are possible. See www.news-medical.net.
NIH research budget causes concern: Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair, Genomic Medicine Institute, was interviewed recently regarding the flat NIH research budget, eyugoslavia.com. Dr. Eng questions why the US annual biomedical research budget has been stagnant at $30.7M, while Singapore, a country of 100 times fewer people, has a $40B budget - and the annual biomedical research budget for China is $4.3 trillion. This means that while the US annual biomedical research budget is 10% of its population, China's is more than 3-fold greater than its. Dr. Eng highlights that the stagnant NIH budget impacts not only the research that is being done (or not done), but also the training of the future biomedical researcher workforce. The economic return on investing in research is also noted in the article. In terms of economic activity, it is estimated that 2010 NIH funding yielded a 2-fold return, and the human genome project recorded a 200-fold return, suggesting proven benefits of increasing the research budget. In response to the budget situation, Dr. Stephen Meltzer, of The Johns Hopkins University, started a "We the people" petition, at http://wh.gov/R3R. The goal of the petition is to gain 25,000 signatures needed by March 18 to get the president’s attention on the matter, to prevent the United States from falling behind in biomedical research. See also www.prweb.com; news.yahoo.com.
Should physicians (or healthcare insurers) use nomograms in predicting prostate cancer?: Michael Kattan, PhD, Chair, Quantitative Health Sciences, was quoted in the online source OncLive, www.onclive.com, where he and other experts noted what nomograms can and cannot contribute to unresolved clinical questions, particularly for prostate cancer. Dr. Kattan emphasized a desirable quality of nomograms: their precision (given, of course, that they derived from “more and better collection of data.”) He stated, "Nomograms are most helpful when the decisionmaking is most difficult, when there are trade-offs, for example, between quality [and quantity] of life." The highly sophisticated nomograms he has developed can be used to predict aggressiveness or indolence of an individual’s disease – not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a truly tailored assessment of risk. Cleveland Clinic has 7 prostate cancer nomograms available that are among 19 calculators for oncologic and other diseases [see the Risk Calculators page].