Science, engineering and clinical research are leading to new ground-breaking technologies that will provide an unprecedented quality of medical care. The emerging field of personalized medicine requires that clinicians and researchers study, diagnose, and treat patients with modalities tailored to the patient, the condition being treated, and systemic and environmental factors. Columbia University is leading the charge in research, training, and commercialization in the following areas of precision medicine:
Precision Medicine requires new approaches to data acquisition, storage, access, and analysis. Columbia is home to world-class intellectual leaders in advancing Data Science frontiers, addressing a broad spectrum of critical techniques such as machine learning, optimization, privacy and security, large-scale distributed computing and communication, and analytics tools for handling massive data of diverse structural and functional types.
Columbia engineers are developing new technologies for collecting personalized health information, including DNA sequencing and detection of genomic and proteomic biomarkers at low cost and in point-of-care form factors. These technologies will enable rapid clinical decisions regarding treatment options and drug responsiveness based on information individualized to each patient.
Drug Discovery and Modeling of Disease
In parallel, new methods are being developed to accelerate the implementation of precision medicine, including microphysiological platforms that use tissues made from the patient’s own cells for modeling disease, drug discovery and development of patient-tailored therapeutic regimens.
Columbia Engineering faculty pioneer development of cutting edge technologies to image detailed biological structures and dynamics of biological processes – from new functional microscopic techniques to cardiac strain MRI/US to methods of elastography for non-invasive drug delivery system for focal treatment of chronic diseases of the brain, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s; and Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) in cardiac function and assessment of patient specific electro-physiology for treatment of arrhythmias of the heart.
Internet of Things and Intelligent Information Collection
We are developing smart sensing mechanisms and information collection pipelines to sense conditions of the environment, observe user health states, and collect patient data in challenging settings (such as emergency rooms) in the most efficient and scalable ways.
Micro- and Nanotechnology
Wearable devices and portable environmental sensors can be deployed in specific communities and homes, and new powerful instrumentation holds great promise for monitoring a patient’s health and pathology. Our faculty are developing point of care diagnostics for sampling blood and bodily fluids with breakthroughs in microfluidics and “lab on a chip” technology that expands precision medicine in new cost-effective ways.
Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells
New technologies to study, regenerate or repair various parts of the human body in patient-specific forms using the patient’s own cells, including mechanically functional bone and cartilage, muscles, skin, blood vessels, lungs and hearts stand to completely redefine treatment for some patients. These technologies hold promise for realizing the future goal of engineering complex tissues or organ systems pre-designed to successfully integrate with environments specific to each patient. There is growing interest in mechanomedicine, which identifies the dynamic interplay of molecular, cellular and tissue-level mechanical interactions in governing disease, injury and healing.
Learn more about The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.