Precision Medicine Student Alliance Elective

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The field of precision medicine has been garnering tremendous attention lately. From President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative to the recent appointment of medical informatics expert Atul Butte, MD, PhD as leader of UCSF’s new Institute for Computational Health Sciences, the trend of genomics-guided medicine is taking center stage nationwide and on campus. Second and third-year School of Pharmacy students Dalga Surofchy, Chris Foo, Priya Jayachandran, Lilian Kibathi, and Dor Keyvani founded the Precision Medicine Student Alliance (PMSA) last year. Today, the organization’s aim is to educate students about precision medicine by bringing together innovative minds actively working in the field from across the Bay Area.  

This Spring, PMSA is staying true to their mission by offering a 1-day elective course on precision medicine. The elective, entitled Precision & Personalized Medicine: Healthcare Frontiers, will take place on Saturday, April 11, 2015. This 1-day conference will pull together leaders from industry and academia to highlight innovation in precision medicine. Invited speakers from 23andMe, the Gladstone Institutes, Genomic Health, and several UCSF Institutes and Centers of Excellence will share their insight on recent advances and challenges in the field.

Atul Butte, MD, PhD will highlight the motivation behind creating UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences, its future plans, and how health professional students can become involved with the Institute. Kristen McCaleb, PhD, will speak about UCSF’s Genomic Medicine Initiative and its collaboration with Syapse, a Bay Area precision medicine health IT company, to develop a cloud-computing software program that integrates cancer genetics data with patient electronic medical records. The program will inform physicians and researchers to develop better treatments. Barbara Koenig, PhD and Lisa Denney, MPH will address ethical considerations surrounding precision medicine technologies and how the issue of informed consent is being overcome.

Audrey Goddard, PhD of Genomic Health will speak about OncoType Dx, one of the most successful precision medicine products currently on the market. She will explain how the product impacts treatments of breast, prostate, and colon cancers. The Chief Medical Officer of 23andMe, Jill Hagenkord, MD, will address how the personal genetics company optimizes genomic data to guide patient care. Bruce Conklin, MD, from the Gladstone Institutes will speak about the use of induced-pluripotent stem cells disease models as future drug development platforms that can test gene variants associated with drug responses like cardiomyopathies. Finally, Kathryn Phillips, PhD, from UCSF’s Institute for Health Policy Studies will provide insight into the economics of precision medicine and how it is affecting future growth in the field.

Students who enroll in the one day-elective course will be awarded one unit of credit. In addition to listening to talks, students will also get a chance to eat lunch with the speakers and network. “It is our hopes that this elective course will introduce students to Precision Medicine for the first time, or give people who are already familiar with the field more knowledge,” says Dor Keyvani, co-founder of PMSA. “I really want our audience to walk away thinking they learned a lot and established strong contacts with our speakers - perhaps even one day consider somehow working within the field of Precision Medicine.”

The elective is open to students and faculty from UCSF and surrounding universities and to the general public. To sign up for the elective go to the Eventbrite link at to purchase a ticket! UCSF students can register under BPS 171 to receive 1-unit elective credit. Join us in making history by attending the very first Precision and Personalized Medicine course at UCSF!