Tucked away in a new industrial park off Alico Road east of Interstate 75 in Fort Myers, scientists are busy building a promising new venture that will help physicians in Southwest Florida deliver that elusive service: personalized medicine.
In the first program of its kind in the nation, the Clinical and Translational Genome Research Institute is working with Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to develop a certificate for laboratory technicians to learn how to use the equipment that decodes individual genetic makeup. The nonprofit organization is also collaborating with Lee Memorial Health System and the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida on major initiatives related to medical research and economic development.
Once trained by the institute, clinical laboratory technicians will be able to deliver the kind of genetic information that physicians need to tailor medications so that patients receive the best treatment with the appropriate doses. The technology is available now, but the trained workforce is lacking, scientists say.
For example, doctors now rely on a system of trial and error to determine the right medications and dosage for patients with problems ranging from attention-deficit disorders to cancer. Personalized medicine using genetic testing promises better outcomes because medications will be more effective.
“Being able to target therapy is a big deal,” says Larry Antonucci, chief operating officer for Lee Memorial Health System, speaking to a gathering at the institute’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 19. “This will in fact lower the cost of care.”
In addition to training laboratory technicians, the institute plans to collaborate with researchers who study various diseases to provide them with laboratory space and equipment. It also plans to assist entrepreneurial startups who lack the expensive infrastructure. The institute announced the launch of operations at the newly constructed Emergent Technologies Institute, an FGCU facility at the Innovation Hub park off Alico Road in Fort Myers.
You can read a recent story about the institute in the Business Observer, a weekly business newspaper that covers the Gulf Coast from Tampa to Naples.