Medical Staff Pulse Newsletter

FDA Warns About Zydelig

Pharmacy Focus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting healthcare professionals about reports of an increased rate of adverse events, including deaths, in clinical trials with the cancer medicine Zydelig in combination with other cancer medicines.

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Meetings and Events

Grand Rounds

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Upcoming CME Conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - March 2016 (PDF)  


Morton W. Klein, MD, has died.

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Laying the Groundwork for Precision Medicine

Cedars-Sinai is preparing to advance the institution to the forefront of the next healthcare revolution: precision medicine. Using the latest medical discoveries, this revolution seeks to tailor disease treatments and prevention strategies to each unique individual.

"Precision medicine at Cedars-Sinai is a partnership between scientists, clinicians and industry," Dermot McGovern, MD, PhD, quoting from the initiative's mission statement, told 30 department leaders March 17 at a meeting at the Advanced Health Sciences Pavilion. "We will drive the development of the newest technology and best research, coupled to the finest clinical practice, to rapidly deliver precise and personalized healthcare solutions."

McGovern directs a six-member core group that is laying the groundwork for the official launch of the Precision Medicine Initiative on Sept. 16. For profiles of the members, please see "Meet the Precision Medicine Leaders" below.

The concept of precision medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine, has been around for a long time, McGovern explained. To prove his point, he quoted from Leo Tolstoy's 19th century novel War and Peace: "No disease suffered by a live man [or woman] can be known, for every living person has his own peculiarities and always has his own peculiar, personal, novel, complicated disease, unknown to medicine." (McGovern added the bracketed phrase.)

But scientific advances in the past quarter-century have propelled precision medicine to a higher plane. These advances include the sequencing of the human genome, plus new insights into our bodies' complex chemical activity (metabolomics), protein function and structure (proteomics) and billions of microorganisms (the microbiome).

With the help of ever-faster computing, all the so-called big data generated by these discoveries can be combined into a comprehensive profile of an individual's biology. Using mobile applications and sensors, patients can even generate their own data, such as heart rates and blood-glucose levels, at home — an advance called "near-patient technologies."

"We strongly believe that we are developing an innovative and very significant initiative at Cedars-Sinai," McGovern said. The initiative's mission statement predicts that "scientific advances derived from 'big data' will provide the therapeutic and diagnostic tools that our clinicians need to significantly impact patient care." Besides improving health, these advances can ultimately provide more cost-effective healthcare to the community, McGovern noted.

In one example, Sumeet S. Chugh, MD, medical director of the Heart Rhythm Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, said that potentially, a heart patient could monitor his or her own vital signs, such as administering an electrocardiogram. That data, combined with personal health information on file, could enable the patient to avoid making an unnecessary 911 call for symptoms that might not require emergency care.

In remarks at the March 17 meeting, Shlomo Melmed, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and dean of the medical faculty, said Cedars-Sinai's flexible organizational structure, combined with its research talent and large-scale healthcare delivery operation, make it well-qualified to achieve national prominence in precision medicine. "Now is the time to grab this opportunity," he said.

Cedars-Sinai already is having an impact in the field. It was selected by the White House to participate in a Feb. 25 summit in Washington marking the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative. It is one of three California institutions invited by the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine to participate in a seminar on the topic this week at the American Medical Informatics Association meeting in San Francisco.

The next steps for Cedars-Sinai's leaders include assessing the skills and resources needed to support precision medicine, deciding which problems to tackle first, maximizing collaborations between internal scientific groups and industry partners, and selecting criteria for initial projects. Breakout sessions at the March 17 meeting were devoted to each of these topics.

Despite the challenges ahead, leaders of the Precision Medicine Initiative at Cedars-Sinai voiced optimism at the meeting. "Today is a very special day. Today is the day we are going to break some barriers and drive the next generation of therapies and diagnoses," said Jennifer Van Eyk, PhD, director of the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute and of Basic Science Research in the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center. She is co-director of the Precision Medicine Initiative.


Precision medicine relies on input from multiple scientific disciplines, technologies and departments at Cedars-Sinai.

Meet the Precision Medicine Leaders

The new Precision Medicine Initiative at Cedars-Sinai, which seeks to tailor disease treatments and prevention strategies to each unique individual, is coordinated by a six-member core group. Here are brief profiles of the members:

Dermot_McGovern_100pxDermot McGovern, MD, PhD

Director of Translational Medicine, F. Widjaja Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute
Director, Precision Medicine Initiative at Cedars-Sinai

McGovern's laboratory studies the role of genetic variation in susceptibility to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in diverse populations. It utilizes big-data approaches to identify biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets for IBD that feed the Drug Discovery and Development Group, which McGovern co-directs.

JenniferVanEyk_100pxJennifer Van Eyk, PhD

Director, Basic Science Research in the Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center
Director, Advanced Clinical Biosystems Institute
Co-director, Precision Medicine Initiative at Cedars-Sinai

Van Eyk launched the Advanced Clinical Biosystems Research Institute, where the motto is "from discovery to patient care." Her laboratory is known for its proteomic technical pipeline. She works extensively with academic, industry and pharmaceutical partners to pursue key clinical areas in a number of diseases.

BeatriceKnudsen_100pxBeatrice Knudsen, MD, PhD

Director, Biobank and Translational Research Core
Director, Translational Research, Department of Pathology

Knudsen is a pathologist-scientist who is passionate about converting microscopic images into numbers that can be quantitatively analyzed to facilitate discovery of new molecular biomarkers. The multiplex tissue staining technology and digital image analysis methods that she has developed are designed to advance the diagnosis and treatment of many human diseases.

BenjaminBerman_100pxBenjamin Berman, PhD

Director, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Research Center

Berman's laboratory focuses on developing new methods for cancer genome analysis. Berman also is a principal investigator in the National Cancer Institute's Informatics Technology for Cancer Research program, which aims to develop open software and data standards for the cancer research community.

SpencerSoohoo_100pxSpencer SooHoo, PhD

Director of Scientific Computing
Chief Security Officer, Enterprise Information Services (EIS)

SooHoo directs the EIS-based Research Informatics and Scientific Computing Core, which supports researchers with High Performance Computing clusters, storage and databases. He plays key roles in the UCLA CTSI Bioinformatics Program and the pSCANNER network, which both involve building networks to identify potential cohorts of research subjects across multiple institutions.

IanWright_100pxIan Wright (Consultant), CBiol

President and Founder, Strategic Innovations LLC
Chief Strategic Adviser, Applied Clinical Biosystems Research Institute and Precision Medicine Initiative

Wright's company makes connections among scientists, clinicians, industry and investors. The goal is to direct a strategy that develops great ideas to benefit patients as quickly and safely as possible. Wright sits on the boards of, or is an adviser to, a number of early-stage and large bioscience companies.