Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have joined in an effort to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of disease by using rigorous data analysis and systems engineering practices.
The partnership will create a “learning health system” that will speed the translation of knowledge to practice.
“The Applied Physics Lab brings significant new data analytics and systems engineering capability to the field of medicine,” says Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “These skills and experience have the potential to significantly enhance our capability to diagnose disease, predict outcomes and treat patients better than we currently do.”
The partnership will build on existing precision medicine assets at Johns Hopkins, including Johns Hopkins inHealth, an effort launched in 2013 to use data analysis to improve the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of health conditions. It will also interact with the Johns Hopkins Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare, a collaborative research effort designed to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of health care.
Johns Hopkins aims to launch eight precision medicine centers of excellence this year to highlight areas where new technologies and measurement tools can be applied to greatly improve patient care. The centers will focus on conditions such as heart failure, multiple sclerosis, arrhythmias and prostate cancer.
“While totally unrelated diseases, these share the trait that a diagnosis alone cannot predict how the disease will progress or whether a patient will respond to a particular treatment,” says Antony Rosen, vice dean for research for the school of medicine.
Currently, a physician’s expertise develops over the span of his or her career based primarily on experiences with patients that the physician has personally seen. The new centers at Johns Hopkins aggregate this collective scientific knowledge, Rosen says, systematizing diagnosis and enabling more focused treatment and outcomes.
Johns Hopkins inHealth and the centers of excellence will collect more information from patients. In addition to family history, the various research teams hope to analyze biological markers in blood and genetic hallmarks, and incorporate additional societal and physical environment history and information.
A new National Health Mission Area at APL will focus on programs designed to predict and prevent illness, injury and disease; rapidly detect and respond to changes in health status; restore and sustain health; and improve overall health and human performance. It builds on the lab’s history of applying technology to solve critical challenges by focusing these capabilities to improve health and health care, according to Sezin Palmer, executive for research and exploratory development at APL.