Florida Hospital and Sanford-Burnham today celebrate the opening of the Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes’ (TRI) new state-of-the-art facility in downtown Orlando, Fla., dedicated to the advancement of a new paradigm of personalized approaches to researching and treating diabetes and obesity.
“We are witnessing the rise of personalized medicine, most notably in cancer. Our goal at the TRI is to accelerate the advancement of personalized medicine in diabetes and obesity,” said Steven Smith, M.D., Sanford-Burnham professor and scientific director of the TRI. “We are working to rapidly expand knowledge of complex genetic and molecular causes of diabetes and obesity so that we can better define disease subpopulations. By working independently and in partnership with industry, we hope to develop therapies and treatment approaches tailored to those subpopulations. Our ultimate goal is that our discoveries will someday lead to cures for certain patients.”
Researchers at the TRI, an innovative partnership between Sanford-Burnham and Florida Hospital, believe that by applying the concept of personalized medicine to diabetes and obesity, they can help “crack the code” on these global epidemics and provide a more individualized, tailored approach to finding cures. Diabetes and metabolism-related diseases now affect nearly one out of every three Americans. However, the current model for treating both diabetes and obesity reflects a one-size-fits-all model of “eat less and exercise more.”
“Our partnership with Florida Hospital exemplifies a new, translational research model that will speed the development of personalized therapies,” said John Reed, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Sanford-Burnham. “The application of our advanced research technologies to clinical studies at the TRI has the potential to revolutionize health care through the discovery of molecular signatures of disease.”
The TRI bridges the fundamental discovery research conducted in Sanford-Burnham laboratories with clinical studies at the new TRI facility, providing a bench-to-bedside research continuum. The research will be empowered by genomics and metabolomics technology platforms at Sanford-Burnham and sophisticated resources at the TRI. The two-way information sharing is expected to accelerate discoveries and pave the way towards a personalized approach to treating metabolic diseases.
In fact, the first research advancing from Sanford-Burnham to the clinical research stage at the TRI will begin this spring. The research will focus on orexin, an appetite-inducing hormone produced in the brain, which appears to resolve obesity without changes in food consumption or elevation in physical activity.
“Advancing this study to the TRI is a crucial first step in translating fundamental research at Sanford-Burnham to the clinical phase,” said Dr. Smith. “The infrastructure in the new TRI facility has a variety of assets that are essential to this type of bench-to-bedside research.”
Every year, diabetes and metabolic diseases cost Central Floridians more than $4 billion, and nationally generate approximately $174 billion in direct and indirect costs, according to the American Diabetes Association. By linking the largest health care provider in Central Florida with a nationally renowned research institute, the TRI seeks to define subsets of metabolic disease and thereby advance development of personalized treatments.
“The TRI is a natural extension of Florida Hospital’s overall focus on holistic, healthy living combined with world-class patient care,” said Lars Houmann, president and CEO of Florida Hospital. “The new TRI facility represents another step forward in Orlando becoming a major medical destination and marks a major initiative in patient oriented research. The type of research that will be done at the TRI will change how physicians treat diabetes and obesity by creating more personalized therapies. This is a really exciting approach.”