The Sohn Conference Foundation unveiled The Sohn Precision Medicine Program at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) on January 14, 2016. Funded by a $1.5 million grant provided by The Sohn Conference Foundation over approximately a 3-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.”
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 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, Pediatric Oncologist at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, and 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 2 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% 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. ■