The proposed Vanderbilt-Miami-Meharry Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine and Population Health will bring together institutions and faculty with substantial expertise in precision medicine and health disparities research among African Americans and Latinos/Hispanics. The lead institutions in this Center are Vanderbilt University Medical Center- a global leader in precision and personalized medicine, the University of Miami- an international hub for health disparities research and training Latino health professionals, and Meharry Medical College- the nation's top producer of African Americans with a PhD in biomedical sciences and a leader in community engaged research. The Center will leverage unique assets and resources to develop novel methods and approaches to advance population health. These resources include BioVU, one of the largest biobanks in the world with more than 200,000 DNA samples linked to robust electronic health records, NIH-funded health disparities centers, and substantial experience leading and coordinating regional and national research consortia. Other members of the Center include Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi Medical Center, key partners in addressing health disparities in the Southeastern region. The Center will be led by highly-skilled PIs with complementary expertise: Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance; Nancy J. Cox, PhD, Director, Vanderbilt Genetics Institute; Roy E. Weiss, MD, PhD, Chair, Department of Medicine, University of Miami; and Maria de Fatima Lima, PhD, Dean, Graduate School, Meharry Medical College.
The specific aims are as follows:
Specific Aim 1 : Establish the human and technical infrastructure to foster transdisciplinary national-scale research collaborations that focus on using precision medicine approaches to eradicate health disparities.
Specific Aim 2 : Develop novel methods to integrate individual, contextual and environmental data (including genomic, social, cultural, environmental and clinical) to accurately identify precise groups at risk for disparities, and to explain mechanisms for disparities.
Specific Aim 3 : Propel novel health disparities research leveraging genomic and phenotypic data to a) examine differences in drug therapy outcomes; b) identify effective person-specific treatments that enhance therapeutic outcomes among racial and ethnic minorities; c) study genomic variations that impact the specificity and response of drugs; and d) develop valid predictive models (person-specific) for preventing, screening and treating conditions.
Specific Aim 4 : Develop ethical, deliberate, socially and culturally acceptable methods for engaging racial and ethnic minorities and vulnerable populations in precision medicine research, and then collaboratively identify the areas and associated methods to secure the earliest impact on eliminating health disparities as top priorities specifically among African Americans and Latinos.

Public Health Relevance

Our Center is designed to fill an important gap in disparities science by developing robust methods to enable examination of multilevel determinants that drive disparity broadly and not for a specific disease phenotype. This approach is critical because determinants of disparity are likely similar/shared and we can use findings to devise interventions that tackle determinants not simply disease risk.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1)
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Rajapakse, Nishadi
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Vanderbilt University Medical Center
United States
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