Press Release

Johns Hopkins inHealth and Applied Physics Laboratory Join Forces to Revolutionize Medicine

New precision medicine centers of excellence and national health mission area to improve diagnosis, care and outcomes

Mon, 10/17/2016 - 09:45

Johns Hopkins Medicine, in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, today announced a joint effort to apply rigorous data analysis and systems engineering practices in an effort to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

As part of the effort, Johns Hopkins Medicine has identified several similarly challenging conditions for which precision medicine centers of excellence will improve efficiencies and patient outcomes, while fostering new research and treatment platforms.

The partnership between Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Applied Physics Laboratory leverages the medical and systems engineering expertise resident at the two institutions to create a “learning health system” that will speed the translation of knowledge to practice in these and other key areas.

“The Applied Physics Lab brings significant new data analytics and systems engineering capability to the field of medicine,” says Paul B. Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “These skills and experience have the potential to significantly enhance our capability to diagnose disease, predict outcomes and treat patients better than we currently do.”

This new partnership will bring together significant foundational assets in the precision medicine area at Johns Hopkins. These include Johns Hopkins inHealth, launched by Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and led by Scott Zeger, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It will also interact with the Johns Hopkins Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare at the Whiting School of Engineering.

Today’s announcement highlights the broad range of expertise from across The Johns Hopkins University that will now be brought to bear on these challenges of generating new measurement and analytical approaches to further characterize specific diseases and better identify and treat subgroups of patients with diagnoses.

“Johns Hopkins Medicine is one of the world’s leading medical research institutions and a pioneer in the development of advanced health care treatments,” said Ralph Semmel, Ph.D., director of the Applied Physics Laboratory, based in Laurel, Maryland. “By lending our considerable systems engineering and data analysis capabilities, we will further strengthen the capacity of both organizations to make critical contributions in health care delivery.”

About the Johns Hopkins inHealth Precision Medicine Centers of Excellence

Johns Hopkins inHealth, the precision medicine effort at Johns Hopkins, aims to launch eight precision medicine centers of excellence this year to highlight areas where the newest technologies and measurement tools can be applied to greatly improve patient care. The centers will focus on a number of different conditions, including heart failure, genetics, multiple sclerosis, arrhythmias and prostate cancer.

“While totally unrelated diseases, these share the trait that a diagnosis alone cannot predict how the disease will progress or whether a patient will respond to a particular treatment,” says Antony Rosen, M.B.Ch.B., vice dean for research for the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “With the use of new measurement tools and data analytics, patients can be divided into very distinct subgroups that are so different in trajectory, it’s almost as if each subgroup represents a different disease.”

Currently, a physician’s expertise develops over the span of his or her career from the culmination of patients that physician has personally seen. And how one defines low- or high-risk disease can vary subtly according to the range of individual patients each physician treats. According to Rosen, the new centers at Johns Hopkins aggregate this collective scientific knowledge to more precisely characterize into which subgroup a patient falls, thereby systematizing diagnosis and enabling more focused treatment and outcomes.

About the Applied Physics Laboratory's National Health Mission Area

The new National Health Mission Area will focus on programs designed to predict and prevent illness, injury and disease; rapidly detect and respond to changes in health status; restore and sustain health; and improve overall health and human performance. It builds on the Laboratory’s history of applying technology to solve critical challenges by focusing these capabilities to improve health and health care, says Sezin Palmer, mission area executive for National Health at APL.

“We want to leverage APL’s expertise to develop solutions across all care environments in a way that advances health and health care solutions for civilian, military and veteran populations worldwide,” says Palmer. “Our vision, shared by our Johns Hopkins University and school of medicine partners, is to revolutionize health through science and engineering. It conveys the scale at which we aim to make an impact in this area. We are not simply working to improve the state of health and health care in our nation, but to fundamentally disrupt and truly revolutionize it.”

“Patients come to Johns Hopkins for the excellent and innovative care. The medicine of tomorrow will require a deeper partnership with our patients who are willing to help move the research forward in all diseases,” says Rosen. The Johns Hopkins inHealth program and centers of excellence will collect more information from patients. In addition to family history, the various research teams hope to analyze biological markers in blood and genetic hallmarks, and incorporate additional societal and physical environment history and information.

“APL is a long-standing powerhouse in engineering and design. Over the years, we have had several successful collaborations with our colleagues there. We are excited to be partnering with them on such a large scale and hope to continue to improve medicine in the way our founder, Johns Hopkins, imagined,” says Rothman.