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Nonprofit genomic analysis organization the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and California-based City of Hope have announced a collaboration to apply genomic research toward clinical practice through a partnership in which TGen will become a City of Hope subsidiary.

The partnership aims to combine TGen’s expertise in genomic analysis and bioinformatics for cancer drug development with City of Hope’s pioneering patient care focused on bone marrow transplantation, hematologic malignancies, and select solid tumors and diabetes.

“The discovery research will be in both solid tumors and blood cancers. In addition to an array of cancer types, among the focus areas of the TGen/City of Hope alliance will be diabetes, regenerative medicine, information technology and investigational drug development,” TGen spokesman Steve Yozwiak told Clinical OMICs. 

City of Hope and TGen said they will apply their strengths toward gaining new insights into immune function and expanding opportunities for designing new immune interventions. The partners added they are committed to speeding cancer cures by rapidly advancing discoveries to define high-risk populations, identifying targets for prevention and treatment, and promoting initiatives that close health equity gaps.

A longer-range goal of the partnership is to develop a “Personalized Hope” program to detect disease sooner, and improve patient quality of life and survival.

“We are looking to develop many ‘omic’ technologies, including technologies surrounding the Internet of Things, wearable technologies, non-invasive diagnostics, Internet testing, and other exciting avenues that would engage Dell Technologies and many of our other partners,” Yozwiak said. “We will also apply the entire spectrum of genomics and proteomics from direct biopsy to liquid biopsy materials.”

He said City of Hope’s status as a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center will make TGen eligible for funding through the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative headed by Vice President Joe Biden: “Through TGen’s alliance with City of Hope, TGen now has an opportunity to apply for these and many other grants.”

Under the collaboration, TGen will join the City of Hope system by becoming a subsidiary of the parent organization. However, TGen will remain an Arizona-based nonprofit and retain its headquarters in Phoenix, the partners said.

Yozwiak said TGen expects to increase by one-third its current workforce of about 250 researchers and administrative staffers.

“Some of the new areas of research would include the continuing development of non-invasive diagnostic testing (ctDNA, miRNA), single cell DNA and RNA sequencing and associated informatics technologies, the vast area of the Internet of Things, and areas related to population health (like nutrigenomics) and additional tools for high-risk individuals,” Yozwiak said.

TGen Chairman William Post will join City of Hope’s board of directors, while Jeffrey M. Trent, Ph.D., TGen’s president and research director, will retain his position and report to City of Hope CEO Robert W. Stone. Stone has accepted a seat on TGen’s board, where he will serve as vice chairman.

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