The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) at Penn was established almost 20 years ago to develop and support scientists to translate their basic discoveries into the clinic. This focus on human capital, infrastructure and project support has created an environment conducive to breakthrough therapies across diverse modalities including cell and gene therapy and vaccines. A challenge, as this approach matures, is to ensure democratization of access to such novel therapeutics as well as implementation of long established discoveries supporting the efficacy of established drugs.
An emerging opportunity in drug development is to integrate the interrogation of large databases such as the UK Biobank that yield unlimited hypotheses with experimental medicine where deep and perturbed phenotyping promises to narrow the hypothesis space as a prelude to controlled trials. This also may enable an ever more precise application of new medicines. Amongst the factors influencing variability of drug response is time. While it has long been known that time of dosing influences drug exposure, this has had minimal impact on our use of therapeutics. A renewed interest in human circadian biology and chronotherapeutics may refine our use of drugs, radiation and vaccines.