University of Michigan launches precision medicine research initiative starting with opioid abuse

Precision for Medicine
University of Michigan's new research initiative will tap into several existing databases.

The University of Michigan has launched a new precision health initiative that will use the university’s existing databases to drive discovery, treatment and implementation across healthcare.

Researchers' fist target will be the opioid crisis.

University of Michigan researchers plan to create pain management guidelines by identifying risk factors among patients recovering from surgery, according to the announcement. Approximately six percent of patients that have never taken opioids end up addicted after undergoing surgery.

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The initiative will draw from data already collected from 35,000 patients through the Michigan Genomics Initiative, as well as a $100 million Data Science Initiative launched in 2015 designed to support research initiatives that tap into big data and analytics. Broadly, researchers will draw on genomic and socioeconomic data as well as data from sensors and wearables to uncover medical breakthroughs that can translate into treatment strategies and tested in the real world.

The National Institutes of Health has said applying precision medicine to pain treatment is part of its long-term research goals. The CDC has also expanded efforts to improve data collection for opioid addiction.

The University of Michigan plans to announce additional projects in 2018, according to the initiative’s website.

The new initiative comes during a time in which several academic medical centers have already teamed up with Google to enhance their data analytics capabilities. This summer, the National Institutes of Health launched the beta phase of its All of Us precision health research project which aims to recruit 1 million people.

Across the healthcare industry, providers are making precision health a high priority. According to a survey released by The Health Management Academy, 60% of health systems say developing a precision health program is a “high” or “essential” to their strategic aim. Nearly two-thirds said they were implanting a program an 29% said they implemented a precision health program within the last year or more.