Flagship Program of Precision Medicine for AsiaPacific Biomedical Silicon Valley

The Flagship Program of Precision Medicine for AsiaPacific Biomedical Silicon Valley (the Program, hereafter) is to establish a system for continuously developing biotechnology and healthcare industry in Taiwan, applying the “precision medicine” and “learning health systems” concepts. The Program consists of three parts operated by MoHW (through NHRI) and MoST (through Department of Life Sciences and National Center for High-performance Computing of National Applied Research Laboratories), with the emphasis on industrial-academic collaboration, innovative research, and bioinformatics infrastructure, respectively. This 4-year project will be embracing the power of population genomics and “big-data” IT technology to establish teams, capitals, high-tech facility, IP, and market, so that the entire Program, with the government support, can deliver genomic analysis services, genetic test panels, and healthcare delivery systems for long-term, sustainable business development on precision medicine. This Flagship Program will make significant impact in two general areas through coordinated efforts. First, industrial development, championed by NHRI, will deliver product and service through the Taiwan Genomic Industry Alliance (TGIA). Secondly, infrastructure establishment by MOHW and MoST will support and operate on three long-term projects: 1, Genetic Information System for Digital Healthcare in Taiwan; 2. Molecular Diagnosis and Registry System for Rare Genetic Disorders; 3. Establishment and Maintenance of Three-Generation Birth Cohort.

Our Program is highly competitive in that it incorporates advanced technology platforms, engage international collaborations (Tohoku U. of Japan, U. of Chicago and U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor of USA), network with Taiwan medical centers, and leverage the potentials of Taiwan in both the academic and industrial sectors. The research development of the Program will focus on cancers, pediatric conditions, cardiometabolic disorders, as well as women health. This Program will be operated primarily by NHRI, taking a top-down approach. In collaboration with the Taiwan Genomic Industry Alliance (TGIA) – a consortium of Taiwanese companies, this Program will turn into a technology management and venture capital company prior to end of the four-year grant period. TGIA will provide company-style management capability on project management, product development, and business development. Additionally, MoST will supplement with a creative funding mechanism to support innovative research on women and children’s health in universities and hospitals, so that the biological and clinical data obtained will be eventually integrated into the Genetic Information System for Digital Healthcare, to be established by the Program. Furthermore, IT infrastructure and data analysis pipelines will be established at National Center for High-performance Computing of National Applied Research Laboratories for the deposition, computation, sharing and access of the massive biological data (including whole-genome sequences and clinical information) collected for and from this Program. The staffs of the two ministries will meet with the Program leaders on a regular basis to ensure seamless collaborative efforts from the various parties and participants.

In summary, our Program will conduct international collaboration between hospitals, research institutes, and companies for the implementation of precision medicine and learning health systems. Building on the existing network and progress already underway, this Program should place Taiwan at the international forefront of research and industry development, thereby, contributing to not only improved health outcomes for the target diseases, but also job creation and economic growth, in decades to come. Based on this roadmap, we anticipate to jump start business operation through TGIA (short-term goal, Y2018), create 1 billion NT asset (mid-term goal, Y2020), spin off at least three companies, and accelerate the cluster efforts in the greater Hsin-Chu Science Park area (long-term goal, Y2027). Thus, our Flagship Program on Precision Medicine can effectively meet the governmental goal of developing biotechnology and healthcare industry in Taiwan.

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