Phoenix Children’s Hospital Genomics Institute

More from this show

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has opened up a new institute to apply state-of-the-art genomic and proteomic technology for diagnoses, treatments and cures for children facing serious illnesses. Robert L. Meyer, president and CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, will discuss the new Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute.

Ted Simons: Phoenix Children's Hospital recently opened a new institute to apply state of the art genomic technology to help diagnose and help treat children facing serious illnesses. Robert Meyer, president and CEO of Phoenix Children's Hospital is here to talk about the new institute. Good to see you again.

Robert Meyer: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here on such an up note here. CHAN Soon-Shiong, children's precision medical institute, what is it?

Robert Meyer: Molecular medicine genomic based -- majority of childhood diseases are genetically based. We entered a couple of years ago a desire to move in to genomic medicine, leading edge of genetics.

Ted Simons: We talked with you back at the time. Really moving in the direction now. How does this change the game?

Robert Meyer: It changes for us, being a children's hospital, stand-alone children's hospital, we didn't have the resources. We were a little naive when we got into it as to what it would cost, what the resources were, etc. We went out to look for a partner that had the infrastructure, the ability to really give us tools to do what we are trying to do. And we found all of this with Patrick Soon-Shiong and his umbrella of companies under NANT health.

Ted Simons: Who is he?

Robert Meyer: Professor of surgery at UCLA. He's Entrepreneur, developed a number of chemotherapy agents, etc. He is very, very bright, but very driven individual. That wants to see therapeutic uses of genomics, not just pure research.

Ted Simons: The technology involved, it sounds like this has previously been used for adults only. Now we're shifting to children.

Robert Meyer: Primary used for adults. If you look at children, we have a very large oncology program. That's our initial focus. We see 300 new tumors a year. The incident rate of disease in children is very low. Adults, he has a Providence health system in the Pacific Northwest where they see 22,000 new tumors a year. It got its roots in the adult side and now we're bringing it to children.

Ted Simons: Supercomputer, the cloud is involved here as well, is it the information we know and information we are getting, making it faster?

Robert Meyer: Well, yeah, I mean, if you look at the output of genomic sequences, 3 million bits of information. You need a supercomputer to analyze the Genes, etc., but to store them, use them for research purposes, etc. Patrick gave us the supercomputer dedicated to the pediatric consortium we're developing, housed at Phoenix children's, and in addition to that, he has been gracious enough to give us access to a high speed fiber-optic network to transport data across the country and internationally to the supercomputer and etc.

Ted Simons: Artificial intelligence technology, did I read that was also being used?

Robert Meyer: As the computer works, it learns. The more and more genomes we run through it, it starts to learn, recognizes patterns. Another piece to it is a decision support tool, built for adults, would take the genomic data and the medical data and combine them, and tell you the most appropriate therapies, drugs, to deal with that mutation. The other piece is - , a major reason why we went with NANT health. It tells you whether the mutation is turned on or off. Just because you have a mutation, doesn't mean it is actually doing anything.

Ted Simons: And does this now mean -- that's very interesting -- does this now mean that children's hospital is a bit of a hub for this kind of research?

Robert Meyer: Yes. We have a relationship in terms of our partnership with NANT health, we are the pediatric hub nationally under NANT health.

Ted Simons: How many patients the first year?

Robert Meyer: We hope to see -- to sequence 100 children the first year and moving rapidly through the development of this consortium. We are already in a number of research consortiums around pediatric cancer. We think we would have 20 to 30 children's hospitals collaborating in a couple of three years and then start to push the numbers up, meaningful numbers rolling through this.

Ted Simons: This technology, again, it sounds to me like it is getting faster and better all of the time. This probably ramps things up significantly.

Robert Meyer: One of the issues we have, bioethic issue with children's cancer. We cure about 70% of children's cancer today with children oncology group protocols. Part of the theory, from a bioethics standpoint, you have to fail the standard therapy. 70% success rate means a 30% failure rate. Children in that failed status are very ill. We need to be able to move very, very quickly, do the sequencing, and come to a therapeutic decision and our oncologists would like to see that in a week to 10 days at the most, way beyond what is being done today. Another reason for the supercomputers and high speed fiber optics and the help we are getting from Patrick.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing results from that 30% or whatever it is that weren't seeing results with traditional treatments?

Robert Meyer: Yeah, we have children that we have sequenced that are in clinical trials or receiving chemotherapy agents that are outside of the standard protocols. And the answer is yes, we already have children enrolled.

Ted Simons: Children are enrolled, you are seeing the results, and this can only help.

Robert Meyer: It is only going to be better and it is the future and that is why we went there in the first place.

Ted Simons: Congratulations. You probably already are a busy man. The Supercomputer is going to ramp you up too. Good to have you here.

Robert L. Meyer:President and CEO, Phoenix Children's Hospital;

A cactus blooms in the Sonoran Desert
aired Feb. 28

Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

Barry Gibb singing (Bee Gees: In Our Own Time)
aired Feb. 24

Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
aired Feb. 23

The Highwaymen: Live at Nassau Coliseum

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: