Clinic-to-research connection

Sealy Center, GenoLogics to develop biomedical informatics solution

Amy Swinderman
VICTORIA, British Columbia— Seeking a translational research solution to help connect its clinical and basic research clients, the Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine (SCMM), an interdisciplinary research center at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), announced in August it will partner with informatics software developer GenoLogics to develop an integrated, biomedical software solution.

SCMM will collaborate with GenoLogics on the customized, university-wide deployment of Biomedical Informatics, user-friendly software that will help the center efficiently and effectively manage its high-throughput, system-based approach to understanding cell stress response pathways. SCMM, whose biomarker program is developing new tools to study and classify human diseases at a molecular level, will advise on the requirements, test interfaces and functionality of the software, which will allow clients to track prospective studies, collect patient data at remote sites, provide biospecimen and clinical annotations management and facilitate researchers' queries on clinical information and requesting samples.

GenoLogics will evaluate the center's needs and provide the infrastructure for the solution. The work with SCMM to provide a custom solution will allow GenoLogics to add functionality to its Biomedical Informatics product, as the company looks to expand its translational research offerings and focus on life science discovery.
The end product will assist SCMM with fulfilling its goal of providing personalized medicine and should help it attract future funding, says SCMM Director Dr. Allan Brasier.

"At academic universities, there is inadequate infrastructure and support for information sciences to be applied to clinical sample and study management," Brasier says. "This product will allow us to rapidly step ahead with a robust data management system. Our goal is to create a robust, university-wide mechanism for clinical data management, specifically linking our sample biorepository with our core laboratories and clinical data sources. We want to have a mature, functional product that will allow us to interact with other institutions to develop federated clinical repositories."

GenoLogics' development of Biomedical Informatics will benefit greatly from SCMM's real-world experience, says James DeGreef, vice president of market strategy for GenoLogics.

"Their input into the design and development of the biospecimen and clinical annotations products will be invaluable, as well as to the deployment of our web query portal as they look to centralize the management of a number of physically separate biobanks across their research enterprise," DeGreef says. "Collaborations like this one have taken us beyond our initial focus on life sciences discovery. In the few years since people began doing genomics and proteomics discovery, the market has really progressed, and we have received a lot of feedback from our customers who need an informatics solution to help bridge the gap between research and the clinical space. Working with research centers like SCMM allows us to expand our footprint."

Ultimately, the software developed by the collaboration will allow SCMM to make better diagnostics for common medical diseases such as asthma, cancer, diabetes and degenerative diseases, says SCMM Biomarker Discovery Director Dr. Kevin Rosenblatt.

"In order to validate our biomarkers for common diseases, we needed to exchange information from clinical to research domains," Rosenblatt says. "This can only be done with a biomedical informatics solution that not only tracks our biospecimens, but also the clinical annotations and then connects to the data being generated in our research labs.

The GenoLogics Biomedical Informatics solution will have this unique capability to bring it all together in a single platform." DDN

Amy Swinderman

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