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Partnership for Personalized Medicine Signs Major Agreement with Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

June 1, 2008
Arizona’s evolution to become a center for biosciences leapfrogged in June 2008. The government of Luxembourg announced a $200 million agreement with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), the Partnership for Personalized Medicine and the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, to increase the pace of the Grand Duchy’s innovation in molecular biology, systems biology and personalized medicine.

The initiative will create a biobank of pertinent molecular-based data to propel a lung cancer demonstration project. One Luxembourg minister said the project was a “public library of tissue samples that are invaluable for the translational process.”

The Partnership for Personalized Medicine, a collaborative research project headquartered in Arizona and led by Dr. Lee Hartwell, 2001 Nobel Laureate and president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, together with the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and TGen, seeks to develop personalized diagnostics that place a greater emphasis on prevention and early detection.

The announcement was made jointly by three branches of Luxembourg’s government: the Ministries of Economy, Foreign Trade and Culture. Attending the ceremony were Dr. Hartwell, Dr. Jeffrey Trent, president and scientific director, TGen; José Cárdenas, chair of TGen’s board and trustee of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust; and Dr. Judy Jolley Mohraz, Piper Trust president and CEO.

The initiative consists of three interrelated research components:

Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL)
Led by TGen, Luxembourg will set up a next-generation biobank of tissue samples (blood, serum and tumor tissue) that, when linked with clinical information, will become a centralized, molecular-based database of medically relevant information, accessible to scientists internationally. TGen’s principal role working with Luxembourg scientists and physicians, will be to jointly develop and implement the development of the information architecture and technology implementation.

Luxembourg Project Lung Cancer
Led by Dr. Hartwell, together with investigators at TGen and the Biodesign Institute at ASU, the Luxembourg project will focus on pursuing research to develop molecular diagnostics for lung cancer for which there are no reliable tools for early detection and virtually no known cures. The initiative will use new personalized, protein-based diagnostic tools and will seek to demonstrate that earlier detection and intervention can reduce healthcare costs. The investigators will draw on the molecular-based data from the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg. Approximately 180 persons die annually from lung cancer in Luxembourg, which has a population under a half million.

Center for Systems Biology Luxembourg
The third component of the Luxembourg initiative, a collaboration between the Institute for Systems Biology, and the University of Luxembourg, creates the Center for Systems Biology Luxembourg. The center will focus on understanding the role of genetic variations in disease and on integrated systems proteomics, RNS and cell analysis methodology.

The Partnership for Personalized Medicine and its cornerstone initiative, Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics, launched in fall 2007 with major investments from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and Flinn Foundation.

Read the Arizona Republic article

Read the ASU News article