Grant provided by The Sohn Conference Foundation extends precision medicine to NYC children battling high-risk cancers

Jan 14, 2016
NEW YORK - 

The Sohn Conference Foundation today unveiled The Sohn Precision Medicine Program at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Funded by a $1.5 million grant provided by The Sohn Conference Foundation over approximately a three-year period, the Program will provide high-risk pediatric cancer patients in New York City access to state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technologies.

“Precision medicine is a critical new tool in the fight against pediatric cancer, but is often inaccessible due to cost,” said Evan Sohn, vice president of The Sohn Conference Foundation. “We are committed to not only supporting innovative pediatric cancer research that will produce life-saving treatment options, but also improving access to top-notch care for all children battling cancer through this program.”

Genomic sequencing involves analyzing a patient’s entire genome, which contains all of the genetic information stored within our genes. By deciphering the genetic code in cancer cells, genomic sequencing allows physicians to select treatments that address the underlying genetic changes that occurred during the development of cancer and are most likely to produce a therapeutic response. This approach represents a more precise and personalized approach to cancer diagnosis and care.

Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia currently provides genomic sequencing for all of its pediatric cancer patients, regardless of diagnosis, through a program called the Precision in Pediatric Sequencing (PIPseq) program. The PIPseq program, supported by the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, was launched in 2014 to comprehensively analyze the DNA and RNA of both the tumor and normal tissue in children with cancer. Sequencing results are reviewed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts who provide real-time recommendations to each patient’s oncologist. The funding from The Sohn Conference Foundation now provides access to the PIPseq program for New York City children with high-risk cancer treated at other New York City hospitals.

“Genomic technologies have transformed our ability to understand the precise underpinnings of each patient’s cancer, and in many cases highlights the importance of tailoring cancer treatment to the patient’s genetic profile rather than to the tumor type alone,” said Andrew Kung, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at CUMC and pediatric oncologist at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. Dr. Kung is also the Robert and Ellen Kapito Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia. “These comprehensive analyses have produced life-saving results for our pediatric patients over the last two years. Unfortunately, these technologies are not routinely covered by insurance and remain out of reach for many. This support from The Sohn Conference Foundation ensures that New York City children battling high-risk cancers can benefit from this program even as we work to demonstrate to insurers the merits of such an approach.”

Integrating pediatric oncology, pathology, bioinformatics, genetics, and surgery into a cohesive service for pediatric cancer patients, the Program will benefit children who are residents of New York City, 18 years old or younger, and have received a high-risk cancer diagnosis with a 50 percent or greater chance of relapse. Patients can access the Program, without cost, while being treated at their current hospital, including NewYork-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Komansky Center for Children’s Health.

The Sohn Precision Medicine Program at Columbia is the only clinically compliant program performing comprehensive genome and RNA sequencing for pediatric cancer patients across New York City.

ABOUT THE SOHN CONFERENCE FOUNDATION

The Sohn Conference Foundation is dedicated to the treatment and cure of pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases. The Foundation supports cutting-edge medical research, state-of-the-art research equipment, and innovative programs to ensure that children with cancer survive and thrive. The Foundation raises its funds through premier investment conferences and special events, including its renowned annual New York Sohn Investment Conference.

Founded in 1995, the Conference honors the memory of Ira Sohn, a successful trader on Wall Street who lost his battle with cancer at age 29. The Foundation has expanded its reach to include the Sohn London Conference, Sohn San Francisco Conference, Sohn Canada Conference, Sohn Hong Kong Conference, and Sohn Tel Aviv Conference. To date, the Foundation has raised $65 million. More information on the Sohn Conference Foundation can be found here: www.sohnconference.org.

ABOUT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

ABOUT NEWYORK-PRESBYTERIAN

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, focused on providing innovative and compassionate care to patients in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical school partners, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and clinical innovation.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network is comprised of leading hospitals in and around New York and delivers high-quality care to patients throughout the region; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health features the hospital’s ambulatory care network sites and operations, community care initiatives and healthcare quality programs, including NewYork Quality Care, established by NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S. Each year, nearly 29,000 NewYork-Presbyterian professionals deliver exceptional care to more than 2 million patients.

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