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from the West’s board last week. His departure follows a major overhaul the institute began last year, as it sought to back away from its close association with Qualcomm and to recast itself as an independent center focused on reducing the cost of healthcare—with funding provided solely by philanthropists Gary and Mary West.
Yet as Scripps Health spokesman Keith Darcé said by phone this afternoon, there is still a crucial need to get new digital technologies validated.
“One of the challenges that Dr. Topol has talked about is the difficulty in getting [an innovative technology] out into the market place, [and] in proving that it works,” Darcé said. Tech startups are typically not funded to carry out clinical trials, “so what’s happening here is that the Qualcomm Foundation is stepping up to provide some funding, so this kind of research work can go forward.”
Darcé also noted that the Qualcomm grant is not limited only to funding clinical trials of new wireless health technologies. “This money is going to support research activity, it’s not to support a particular study,” Darcé said.
In particular, the Scripps Translational Science Institute said it plans to use the Qualcomm funding to focus on three high-priority programs:
—Clinical trials to validate wireless biosensor systems that use micro-sensors in the bloodstream to detect signs of such health problems as heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cancer.
—Developing mobile apps and embedded sensors that can be used to identify specific type of proteins or antibodies that are generated by the body’s response to changing medical conditions.
—Developing 20-minute diagnostic tests that could be used in pharmacies to determine whether a person is genetically compatible with prescribed drugs such as Plavix, Metformin, and Interferon that have a varying range of effectiveness.