Carlos Slim Helu announced today the launching of a major research project on genomic medicine that will be of the utmost importance for public health in Mexico and the world. The project will be carried out by the Carlos Slim Institute of Health in partnership with the Broad Institute and the National Institute for Genomic Medicine of the Mexican Secretariat of Health. The aim is to understand the genomic basics of cancer in the world’s population, and of diabetes- mellitus in Mexican and Latin American populations.
The name of the project is SIGMA (Slim Initiative in Genomic Medicine). It will last three years and will imply a donation of US $65 million dollars from the Carlos Slim Institute of Health.
The Broad Institute, an organization affiliated to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, has developed the most advanced, and sometimes unique, research and technologies in genomic sequencing worldwide. The project involves the training of Mexican experts under the leadership of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine of the Mexican Secretariat of Health, the leading institution in genomic research in Latin America.
The findings of this research will help accelerate in Mexico and the world the prevention of diseases, as well as the production of better medicines and the development of gene-based therapies.
When referring to the importance of the project, Carlos Slim stated, “I am convinced that only through the genomic approach will we enable the costly treatment of universal diseases that even exceed the budgets of the richest countries”.
According to Dr. Eric S. Lander, President and Executive Director of The Broad Institute, “Carlos Slim Helu is adopting a visionary engagement with America’s public health, at least in two ways. Firstly, he has recognized that progress in public health must be based on the thorough understanding of the genetic fundamentals of diseases and, secondly, he has recognized the importance of establishing solid partnerships between the scientific communities of the United States and Mexico, around a common cause.”
The research project will take advantage of the new technologies available for decoding and sequencing DNA, at an unprecedented speed. Regarding cancer, scientists will be able to identify a world catalog of genetic variations (also known as mutations), so as to develop personalized therapeutic and preventive treatments.
As regards diabetes, the study will generate systematic descriptions of those genetic factors associated to the disease, with emphasis on Mexican and Latin American populations. Diabetes has become one of the most important public health problems in the region. A profound understanding of these factors is needed in order to foster prevention, treatment and control.
In order to supervise the scientific progress of the SIGMA project a Scientific Committee has been established. It will be composed of renowned scientists from around the world with vast experience in the fields of cancer, diabetes and genomic science. During the three years of the project, major findings will be publicly announced. In order to guarantee that the project benefits science and the population in general, the main recipient of its findings will be the National Institute for Genomic Medicine.
The Scientific Committee is composed of: (In alphabetical order)