2021 Updates

Redesigned CIAPM Website Launches

On April 22 CIAPM launched a redesigned website. The rollout was part of a larger website update for the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research. In addition to the educational content discussed below, the new site is easier to navigate and better highlights our funded projects, cross-agency partnerships, news and updates, and members of our staff, the California Precision Medicine Advisory Council, and Expert Committees.

We are also delighted to launch brand new content, including a primer on precision medicine and a curated resource library of external information for all audiences. In the near future we plan to add playlists of our favorite informative videos about precision medicine, public health, and other related topics, and a continuously updated list of relevant external funding opportunities.

Browse the primer for answers to questions like How does precision medicine affect me? and How will data change health care? If you are a researcher, teacher, student, or community member, there are additional resources that have been carefully curated with you in mind.

We will continue to update the resources to capture new developments and represent diverse voices in the field. If there is a link or topic you would recommend including on the webpage, please share it with us.

California Precision Advisory Medicine Council Working Groups Launch

February marked the kickoff for both of the Council's working groups. Each is focused on addressing specific health disparities: integrating social determinants of health data into electronic health records, and creating a framework for an equitable consent process that brings more undderrpresented minority groups into medical research.

The first meeting of the Data Integration working group took place on February 8. The group discussed several existing efforts to standardize social determinants of health for electronic health records, and possible partnerships and synergies between public, private, and nonprofit organizations. The Data Integration group is chaired by Hakan Sakul, PhD, who is a Vice President and Head of Diagnostics at Pfizer.

A traditional medical record doesn't give a health care practitioner a complete picture of the many factors that contribute to a patient's health and wellness. Risk factors such as food or housing insecurity have an enormous impact on a person's health, but at present there is no consensus about the best way for health professionals to capture, assess, store, or access data about social drivers of health so that the information can be used in clinical decision making. We're looking forward to connecting with partners across the state and country to break down data integration barriers for the benefit of Californians.
Dr. Hakan Sakul
Chair, Data Integration Working Group

The first meeting of the Equitable Consent working group took place on February 19. The members contributed ideas on the development of an equitable framework for the informed consent process that takes place in the course of research on human subjects, and strategized how to maximize the impact of the project. The group is chaired by Kenneth Kim, MD, a physician who is the founder and Chief Medical Officer for Ark Clinical Research.

Part of the reason health disparities persist is that the communities experiencing disparities have historically been preyed upon by medical researchers, so they are understandably reticent to participate in research that may benefit them. It's the responsibility of the researchers to reach out to minority groups that are currently underrepresented in medical research, learn from them their reasons why they may hesitate to participate, and work with those communities on strategies to build trust between researchers and potential research subjects. A step in that direction is to design an equitable framework for the informed consent process so that it is accessible to a wider array of potential participants.
Dr. Kenneth Kim
Chair, Equitable Consent Working Group

Each working group will meet every other month, and meetings will be open to the public. Check the Meetings page for agendas and registration details.

Setting a Statewide Research Agenda for Disaster Resilience

The California Council on Science & Technology (CCST) engaged CIAPM in an agenda-setting workshop on February 18 as part of their new Disaster Resilience Initiative, an effort to bridge science and technology experts with state policymakers. Sharing the virtual panel with California Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Marko Mijic and Assemblymember Dr. Bill Quirk, CIAPM Co-Director Dr. Julianne McCall presented to deans, chief science officers, chief innovation officers, professors, and other experts representing California's world-class research institutions, including CIAPM Advisor Dr. Bonnie Maldonado. Discussion about the most pressing policy and research challenges in our state touched on the digital divide, an impending mental health crisis, rampant public health misinformation, economic strains, workforce development, and data infrastructure. Policy Fellows Aiyana Emigh Cortez and Hyunsoo Gloria Kim contributed to post-panel discussions and exercises.

2020 Updates

First-ever California Surgeon General's Report Released

The first-ever California Surgeon General’s Report was released, titled Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health. This report was co-authored by CIAPM Co-Director Dr. Julianne McCall, with contributions from Co-Director Dr. Shannon Muir, former Science Fellow Dr. Ken McCullough, and Policy Fellow Gloria Kim, design by Science Communications Specialist and Administrator Megan Varvais, and reference management by Policy Fellows April Booth and Aiyana Emigh Cortez.

The 438-page report is a product of experts across specialties and geographic areas. Organized around primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies, the report includes stand-alone summaries for various sectors, including health care, education, early childhood, justice, and social services.

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris presented key findings from the report in a public webinar, recorded and accessible here.

We at CIAPM were honored to partner with the Office of the California Surgeon General to develop this important resource and look forward to continuing to advance the science of ACEs with the announcement of awardees of our ongoing Request for Proposals for ACEs research in March.

Key Steps to Reduce Racial Cancer Disparities Include Supporting Minority Scientists, Diversifying Medical Schools and Clinical Trials

Former CIAPM Advisor John Carpten, PhD, addressed Congress this month as the Chair of the inaugural AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2020, published September 16 by the American Association of Cancer Research. In his presentation to Congress and a recent interview for the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), he discussed the root causes of racial inequality in cancer care, how inequality in research leads to disparities in outcomes and mortality, and how cancer researchers can change these circumstances.

By diversifying the cohort, we learn more about the efficacy of the therapy, or perhaps the toxicity profile...by diversifying trials, we help everyone. The whole concept of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research will probably be part of the answer. And we have to break down the barriers, break down the walls, and break down the silos, and begin to work together and come up with novel study designs that bring to bear various disciplines to address these issues.
Dr. John Carpten

Dr. Carpten is the Chair of the Department of Translational Genomics at the University of Southern California (USC) and co-leads the Translational and Clinical Sciences Program at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Carpten was a member of the Precision Medicine Advisory Committee, which produced the 2018 report Precision Medicine: An Action Plan for California.

Further reading: AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2020

Former CIAPM Investigator Celebrates Anniversary of Major Genome Breakthrough

This summer, the National Human Genome Research Institute celebrated 20 years since Dr. David Haussler and his team at UC Santa Cruz uploaded the first working draft sequence of the human genome. Not long after, the UCSC Genome Browser was released, enabling graphical visualization of the data. The framework continues to provide researchers the opportunity to contribute their findings for others to use. Since its release, the UCSC Genome Browser has been used extensively, nearing 40,000 citations in the literature.

In the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Haussler's team worked to adapt the UCSC Genome Browser to provide researchers around the world with a common platform to access the latest molecular data characterizing the SARS-CoV-2 genome and proteins. Scientists can use the community resource to analyze how the virus has mutated, compare the genome with other coronaviruses, and upload their own findings to further shared understanding. A manuscript was recently posted with full details.

Dr. Haussler is the Scientific Director of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute and was one of CIAPM's first grantees in 2015.

California Precision Medicine Advisory Council Holds First Meeting

The California Precision Medicine Advisory Council (CPMAC) held its first meeting on May 12 and 15, 2020. Both sessions were virtual. The Council selected Clara Lajonchere, PhD to be Chair and Keith Yamamoto, PhD for Vice Chair. Dr. Lajonchere is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Precision Health at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Yamamoto is Vice Chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy at UCSF.

Information about the CPMAC's meetings, including minutes, can be found on the Meetings page.

CIAPM-Supported Research Advances Pandemic Response

Sequencing the Virus

A CIAPM grant recipient is using the techniques he refined and expanded as a Principle Investigator to sequence viral genomes from hundreds of COVID-19 patients, informing health officials of how the virus is mutating and spreading around the world. Charles Chiu, MD, PhD, an infectious disease physician and professor of laboratory medicine at University of California San Francisco, received the grant in 2015 for his project “Precision Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases.” Dr. Chiu conducted the research in collaboration with four other Universities of California, the Department of Public Health, a number of California-based companies, and other partners.

Read more in the press:

Identifying Lesser-Known Symptoms of COVID-19

New research from Dr. Brennan Spiegel, MD and a Wuhan-based medical team sheds light on a lesser-known form of COVID-19. While the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, doctors and scientists around the world are rapidly developing diagnostic tests, searching for possible treatments, testing vaccine candidates, and caring for patients using every medical tool and technique available. Those critical efforts depend on a comprehensive understanding of how COVID-19 impacts all patients, not just the majority. Dr. Spiegel serves as Director of Health Services Research at the Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles and is a 2017 CIAPM grant recipient for research in cardiology and remote biosensors.

While the most prevalent and threatening symptoms of COVID-19 are respiratory, the research team found that some patients with a more mild form of the disease experience gastrointestinal problems before or entirely without any of the commonly associated symptoms, like fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Such patients tend to be diagnosed later than others, and are at-risk of spreading the virus for days without suspecting they would test positive for the disease.

Read the pre-published study made available by the American Journal of Gastroenterology and national press coverage:

For more information about this content, please contact:

Megan Varvais
Megan Varvais is the Science Communication Specialist for the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine. She coordinates CIAPM's web content.