JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — You have a serious medical condition, but conventional tests fail to find an answer. You have no diagnosis and no effective treatment. What do you do? Mayo Clinic has always been a destination for patients seeking answers. Now, Mayo is taking that concept to the next level with the public launch of its Individualized Medicine Clinic at its Florida campus.
To help Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers usher in a new age of medicine that uses technologies like whole genome sequencing to find solutions for patients, Amelia Island, Fla., residents and philanthropists Cecilia and Dan Carmichael have donated $5 million to Mayo.
"If our daughter or our granddaughters were to get cancer, hopefully it could be cured immediately and there would not be this thing hanging over them that any time it could come back," Cecilia Carmichael says.
"It's really an exciting time," Dan Carmichael says. "We want to support the Mayo staff that we've gotten to know and love in transforming care for our family and others."
The Mayo Clinic Individualized Medicine Clinic offers two types of consulting: one for cancer patients for whom standard treatments have failed, and one for "diagnostic odyssey" cases — complex or mysterious disorders that are difficult to diagnose, but appear to have a genetic cause.
"We are leveraging innovative genomic technologies so our physicians can understand a patient's disease at its most fundamental level and use that information to find answers specific to that patient's needs," says Alexander Parker, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and Florida-based associate director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.
A multidisciplinary team of experts will work closely with patients and their physicians to determine whether a patient is a good candidate for tests to identify genetic alterations that could help guide treatment. The team includes physicians trained in genomics, genomic scientists, genetic counselors, bioinformatics experts, laboratory professionals and bioethics representatives.
"We are very grateful for the Carmichaels' gift, which is accelerating the translation of genomics to patient care," Dr. Parker says. "Their generosity is helping us move from talking about the promise of genomic medicine to making it a reality for patients."
The Carmichaels' $5 million donation establishes the Cecilia and Dan Carmichael Family Associate Director for the Center of Individualized Medicine in Florida, as well as the Cecilia and Dan Carmichael Family Fund for Individualized Breast Cancer Medicine Honoring Edith Perez, M.D. The donation builds upon the Carmichael's previous generosity. In 2008, they established the Mayo Clinic Carmichael Family Endowed Fund for Individualized Breast Cancer Medicine and also provided funds for an assistant to Dr. Perez in the Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic.