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September 6, 2018 – What is precision medicine? Healthcare systems as research partners for discovering, validating and improving novel diagnostics and treatments

Precision medicine research explores how individual patients experience disease based on their unique combination of genes, environment, and lifestyle. Researchers analyze large amounts of patient data drawn from biologic samples and electronic medical records to identify specific subsets of patients and use this knowledge to develop more precise approaches to detecting, diagnosing, treating, and ultimately preventing both common and rare diseases. Large research universities and private pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and laboratory sciences companies currently undertake most of the world’s precision medicine research. Yet, it can take years to translate a discovery into a solution that can benefit patients – a drug, diagnostic test, or wearable device – and prove that the solution works in clinical practice. Sutter Health is uniquely positioned to serve as a leader in precision medicine research, offering capabilities that compliment academic and private sector strengths. Sutter Health’s Precision Medicine Institute will give researchers access to health data and biospecimens captured from patients who are seen over years – often decades – by the same providers, and the ability to quickly translate their discoveries into solutions that directly impact patient care can be validated in practice. The Precision Medicine Institute will partner expert Sutter Health researchers with industry and academic partners in a new collaborative model for research that promises to:

  • Accelerate discovery of new diagnostics, treatments, and other interventions that address substantial gaps in patient needs
  • Rapidly translate discoveries in defined clinical areas of patient need through strategic partnerships and collaborations with the private sector and leading academic medical centers
  • Enhance the ability of Sutter Health to deliver personalized care across its diverse patient population and contribute to the growing body of knowledge in precision medicine research


Dr. Tranah is Executive Director of Precision Medicine at Sutter Health and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. At Sutter Health, he leads a system wide biobanking and research program focused on identifying genomic and other predictors of disease progression and treatment response across multiple disease areas. Dr. Tranah’s research program is focused on identifying inherited and acquired genetic factors that impact aging and disease. He is pioneering the discovery of age-related changes in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that impact neurodegeneration, disability, vision, hearing, disability, and survival. As Principle Investigator of numerous mtDNA sequencing projects, he has published over 100 studies on dementia, multiple sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, mortality, and several aspects of aging including sleep, circadian rhythms, cognitive, sensory, mobility, cardiovascular, and metabolic function.

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