Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics
Promising advances in the area of personalized medicine have shown us that life-threatening diseases are as distinct in character as the individuals they afflict. The Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics—the latest addition to the Biodesign Institute—has been established with an eye toward overcoming the health care challenges posed by disease variance.
Our Center is developing new diagnostic tools to pinpoint the molecular manifestations of disease based on individual patient profiles. The strategy promises not only to improve therapeutic care, but also to greatly reduce treatment costs by allowing for early disease detection.
The Piper Center's research team is led by Dr. Joshua LaBaer, one of the foremost investigators in the rapidly expanding field of personalized medicine and former director of the Harvard Medical School's Institute of Proteomics (HIP). LaBaer’s efforts involve leveraging the Center’s formidable resources for the discovery and validation of biomarkers—unique molecular fingerprints of disease, which can provide early warning for those at risk of major illnesses, including cancer and diabetes. This work is carried out in conjunction with the Partnership for Personalized Medicine, a multi-institution effort that includes the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle.
At the Piper Center’s new 8000-sq. ft., state-of-the art research facility, our translational research will deliver benefits for clinical diagnoses, the development of custom-tailored drugs and individualized therapies for a range of diseases.
The development of new technologies designed to uncover blood-borne disease markers and to illuminate the molecular signatures of leading killers including Type I diabetes and cancer are among the key projects currently underway. Effective identification of molecular biomarkers will ultimately provide clinicians with a sort of Rosetta’s stone for deciphering vital disease factors specific to individuals, leading to early diagnosis and patient-specific therapy.
Crucial to the Center’s mission is the study of functional proteomics, a field that brings together multiple disciplines – biology, biochemistry, cell biology, engineering, molecular biology, bioinformatics, software development, and database management – to aid in the evaluation of human proteins according to their specific role(s) in living systems. To this end, we have assembled a key scientific resource: the DNASU plasmid repository, a massive library of more than 270,000 expression-ready plasmid clones for genes found in human and other commonly studied organisms. This repository is maintained in a robotically controlled, rapid-access storage facility, with clone variants openly available to laboratories all over the world.