Led by Timothy Elston, PhD, and Chuck Perou, PhD, the university-wide program aims to advance personalized medicine for patients.
The School of Medicine (SOM) will launch a new Computational Medicine Program, which aims to channel UNC’s strength in computational biology, the basic sciences and clinical research, towards the goal of making significant advances in clinical care for patients.
Co-directors of the new program are Timothy Elston, PhD, professor of pharmacology and director of the Curriculum in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and Charles M. Perou, PhD, the May Goldman Shaw Distinguished Professor of Molecular Oncology at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor of genetics, and of pathology and laboratory medicine.
“The Computational Medicine Program will enable teams of scientists from across the university to come together to address problems related to biomedical research,” Elston said. “Our ultimate goal is to generate models, combining many different types of data, that will enable us to predict outcomes of treatment, and design new ways of thinking about treating disease.”
“I think this is a significant, tangible advance towards ‘precision medicine’ or ‘personalized medicine,’” said Perou. “We’ve got great strengths here at UNC in computational biology, translational research and clinical research, and part of our mission here is to mesh these all together to make new advances for patients.”
Blossom Damania, PhD, Vice Dean for Research, said that “the time is right for UNC to capitalize on the great overlapping strengths we have built and the culture of collaboration we are very proud of at UNC and in the SOM. This is a strategic area for the SOM that dovetails with strong support for Precision Medicine initiatives and forming better connections with basic scientists and clinicians. Most importantly, we have identified ideal leadership in Drs. Elston and Perou that will ensure success for a very valuable program. Both Elston and Perou have vast expertise in developing computational models for understanding human disease and we are very fortunate to have both of them on the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.”
The program will officially launch in early 2018. Recruitment efforts for up to five new faculty to join the program will start in the summer of 2018. By five years after launch, the program is expected to include approximately 30 members, consisting of existing UNC faculty and new hires.