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Scripps Gets A Big Grant To Study DNA, Digital Devices And Healthcare

Above: Dr. Eric Topol demonstrates a mobile health app on a smartphone.

Aired 10/23/13 on KPBS News.

The Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla will use the funds to continue studying how advancements in genetics, coupled with wireless technology, could make healthcare more personalized, affordable and effective.

The Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla has been awarded a $29 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant will fund five more years of research, building on a $20 million grant awarded in 2008. The Institute will put the money toward research on how advancements in genetics, coupled with wireless technology, could make healthcare more personalized, affordable and effective.

Dr. Eric Topol heads up the Institute. He's a Scripps Health cardiologist who thinks small digital devices, such as the smartphones most of us already carry everywhere, could revolutionize patient care.

He proved his own point on a San Diego-bound flight back in 2011. Using an iPhone attachment, Topol was able to diagnose a fellow passenger's heart attack mid-flight. The plane made an emergency stop in Indianapolis and the passenger lived.

"We are very excited about the things that we can do to continue that innovative spirit and transform medicine's future," Topol told KPBS. He said the NIH grant is "a big validation of what we're doing."

The funding will enable Scripps to continue ongoing research such as its Wellderly study. In that project, researchers are sequencing 1,000 genomes from people older than 80 years to find out what keeps people healthy into old age.

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