Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received a five-year, $6 million grant from the National Institute of Health to create a center of excellence for Maternal and Pediatric Precision in Therapeutics.
The initiative will study how to implement precision therapeutics and personalized medicine for pregnant women and children, according to a press release, in partnership with the University of California at San Diego, Ohio State University and Indiana University. Together, the institutions will form the new Maternal and Pediatric Precision in Therapeutics Hub.
Vanderbilt’s center will initially launch two projects. The first will focus on prescribing medications such as antidepressants and pain relievers in women in children, seeking to close gaps in pharmacogenomic applications. The second will evaluate the effectiveness of opioid use disorder treatments in pregnant women using electronic health records and other databases.
Prince Kannankeril, VU professor of pediatrics, and Sara Van Driest, VU associate professor of pediatrics and medicine, will serve as co-directors of the research center.
“Maternal and pediatric precision therapeutics is an understudied area,” Kannankeril, a clinical pediatric cardiologist and electrophysiologist, said in the release. “We want to be able to give pregnant women and children the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time — not the drug that seems to be the right dose for the majority of the population. There are things specific to us as individuals — age, genetic background, pregnancy, breastfeeding — that may make a drug act differently in one body compared to others.”