Children's Mercy receives $1 million grant to house only U.S. pediatric genome center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A $1 million grant will make Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital the first pediatric institution in the country to hold a genome center.

The grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation will fund the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine, which will focus on the diagnosis of inherited pediatric diseases and improving health care for children.

Samuel Bennett, the Foundation Program Manager at Commerce Bank, said the new center will not only secure Kansas City's place as a center of biotechnology, but benefit children born with genetic diseases.

"At this time, there is no other facility like this in a clinical setting," Bennett said. " For all of these reasons, the William T. Kemper Foundation wanted to be at the forefront of this effort."

At the Center for the Pediatric Genomic Medicine, critically-ill patients and their parents will be able to have their entire genome decoded and the results analyzed and returned in as little as two days. The rapid genome sequencing approach, called STAT-Seg, will only be available at Children's Mercy Hospital.

"Up to one third of babies admitted to a NICU in the U.S. have genetic diseases," said Stephen Kingsmore, the Director of the Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine at Children's Mercy. "By obtaining an interpreted genome in about two days, physicians can make practical use of diagnostic results to tailor treatments to individual infants and children."

Kingsmore said the quick turnaround on genome information will be a huge influence on the therapeutic decisions in the immediate needs of acute patients.

"So often with these very rare genetic diseases, patients and physicians are on a diagnostic odyssey," Kingsmore said. "Test after test, treatment after treatment, they don't know what's wrong. Now by having the entire genome information in days instead of months, physicians can get a diagnosis quickly and definitively effect treatment."

The grant will fund the equipment and staff needed to analyze data from patients at Children's Mercy and from other children's hospitals around the world.

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