Last week Margot and Tom Pritzker, chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization, hosted a gathering of local corporate leaders and University of Chicago researchers to boost awareness of big-data biomedical research and to discuss how this work could become a regional economic engine. Two substantial gifts from Karen and Jim Frank, president and CEO of Wheels Inc., and Carole and Gordon Segal, the founders of Crate & Barrel, were also announced at the dinner.
The gifts will fund two related projects that are central to a much larger plan at the University that includes multiple data-driven discovery programs to improve health and medical care. The first project is a new Institute for Computational Biology and Medicine that will bring together experts from many aspects of biology who are devoted to data-intensive biomedical discovery. Researchers in the institute will strive to invent new methods of extracting biomedical information from large, varied data sets. These data sources will allow them to generate fresh hypotheses about health and disease, the evolution of biological form and function, and the intricate relationship of organisms to each other and their environment. The second, more tightly focused project will use genomic and physiological data to improve care for patients with pancreatic cancer.
To learn more about these big data initiatives, see John Easton’s story in our Newsroom, and read Melissa Harris’ report from the Pritzker event in the Chicago Tribune. And be sure to check out a photo set from the event on our Facebook page.