Pathways to Research Preeminence: Precision Medicine

The UVA Precision Medicine focus area aims to develop new understanding of the genetics, epigenetics, proteomics, and metabolomics of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders, and develop personalized therapies for patients. The focus area will also develop tailored and adapted preventive interventions in mental health, social and behavioral health, and cognition, and promote health aging, and improved patient care.

Below are some of the initiatives each of our schools have that is focused on Precision Medicine:

  • College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences: Genetics and Epigenetics of disease, behavior, and human cognition, precision serum marker for post-partum depression (psychology)

  • School of Engineering & Applied ScienceEngineering for health- wireless health, biomedical data science, imaging, biomanufacturing, biomechanics

  • School of Medicine: Personalized treatments: genomics, epigenomics, proteomics and metabolomics of disease, including Cancer research, diabetes, cardiovascular, cellular therapies, microbiome
  • School of Nursing: Healthy aging, improved patient care, mindfulness and pain management

Making Medicines Without Side Effects

Our J. Julius Zhu, PhD, and his colleagues have found a way to create drugs without side effects. Basically, they’ve developed a lab technique that will add a whole new layer of precision to the concept of “precision medicine.”

The technique is built on their discovery that the same molecule does different things depending on where it is inside a cell. That’s why drugs can have unintended side effects: Blocking a troublesome molecule entirely might have a beneficial effect, but you’re also stopping its other roles inside the cells. Some of those roles might be quite important.

J. Julius Zhu
J. Julius Zhu
Jack Stankovic and Hongning Wang
(Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)
Computer scientists Jack Stankovic, left, and Hongning Wang are developing the system.

UVA Engineers Seeking to Help Caregivers of Dementia Patients Through New Technology

More than 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are cared for at home by family members, usually spouses or partners. These caregivers routinely experience high levels of stress, anxiety and depression while seeing to the needs of their loved ones. Over time, often through years of providing increasingly demanding levels of support, the stress and strains of caregiving can result in health issues for the caregiver.