St. Louis-based health care insurance company Centene is giving Washington University in St. Louis a $100 million grant over 10 years. The funding is to be used to accelerate research and develop customized treatment and prevention for Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity. The school says all the health conditions are common, debilitating and often deadly diseases affecting millions of people around the world.

Photo courtesy of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

“We will be bringing together world-class resources and intellectual horsepower from every basic and clinical scientific discipline to urgently accelerate the timeline for developing therapies that are more precisely targeted, with aspirations to do so within the next five to seven years,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs. “The partnership supports our global leadership in understanding sequence variants in biological systems that will pave the way for new therapeutic targets, as well as learning more about our own innate biology. Once personalized medicine becomes common practice, health-care workers may examine each patient’s genome — as well as information regarding his or her environment, lifestyle and social network — to identify a customized, affordable approach to optimizing health and medical care.”

Washington University says the investment will leverage the school’s cutting-edge research and biomedical capabilities.

“We share the goal of helping to improve the health of our communities through research, education and customized treatment for people suffering from chronic illnesses,” said Michael F. Neidorff, chairman and CEO for Centene. “We believe personalized medicine is the path to ensure patients get the targeted health care they need to fight disease.”

Advancements made from the initiative will be commercialized through a joint venture between the School of Medicine and Centene.