Children's Minnesota in the News

Seven children’s hospitals collaborate using genomic medicine to change pediatric care

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – (June 18, 2018) – Seven children’s hospitals across the United States are collaborating to rapidly integrate genetics and genomics into primary and specialty pediatric care.

The mission of the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium is to work together on innovative clinical program development, advocacy for children, cutting-edge research and educational programs for the future of genomic medicine.

The seven member hospitals include: Sanford Children’s (Sioux Falls and Fargo), Children’s Minnesota (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Children’s Hospital Colorado (Aurora), Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego, Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center (Tucson) and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (Miami).

Sanford Health has provided $500,000 in seed funding for Consortium projects over the next year.

The initial projects funded by the Consortium include a study of rapid whole genomic sequencing in critically ill newborn infants, and a study evaluating the routine use of an extensive, pediatric-focused, next generation sequencing panel in the diagnosis of childhood cancers.

Genetic diseases are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in infants in Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units (NICU, PICU). These children often undergo an extensive and expensive diagnostic process that may not lead to a final diagnosis. Stephen Kingsmore, M.D., D.Sc., president and CEO of Rady Children’s Institute of Genomic Medicine (RCIGM) is leading rapid whole genomic sequencing in critically ill newborn infants to determine the complete DNA sequence of a child’s genome at one time to identify the risk of genetic diseases. Currently, the average turn-around time for sequencing to diagnosis by the RCIGM team is under a week. That is significantly faster than the common timetable for this type of work, which can take weeks to complete.

“The future of pediatric medicine is being transformed by the ability to rapidly decode the genomes of the most fragile newborns to deliver exact diagnoses and targeted treatment,” said Kingsmore.

“Children’s Minnesota was the first hospital in the consortium to work with Rady to provide Rapid Whole Genome Sequencing (rWGS) to critically ill infants in our intensive care units,” said Nancy Mendelsohn, MD, geneticist and chief of specialty pediatrics at Children’s Minnesota. “It’s a major step in advancing pediatric precision medicine. Together, our institutions strive to enhance patient care and advance cutting-edge research by quickly identifying a diagnosis and treatment plan for patients and their families.”

Pediatric cancers have different genetic origins compared with adult cancers. Current panels for detecting the genetic origins of a tumor primarily focus on adult cancers. OncoKidsSM developed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is specifically formulated to detect the genomic alterations of pediatric cancers including leukemias, lymphomas, bone, soft tissue and brain tumors.

“The ability to identify the precise underlying genomic alterations in individual tumors with OncoKidsSM allows us to personalize care and innovate how we treat children with cancer,” said Alexander R. Judkins, M.D., Pathologist-in-Chief and Executive Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine (CPM) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“We have made huge progress in treating some types of pediatric cancers such as leukemia. Other tumors, especially brain and solid tumors, still have a poor prognosis in children,” said Susan Sencer, MD, oncologist at Children’s Minnesota.  “Working with the consortium we hope to gain a better understanding of the genetic make-up of these pediatric cancers to help design more targeted and specific therapies for better results.”

Extending precision medicine to children’s health through this Consortium is inspired by the vision of Denny Sanford. In 2014, the health care philanthropist gave $125 million to Sanford Health to create Sanford Imagenetics, the first program in the nation to embed the latest in genomic medicine with primary care.

“I am thankful to each member for their participation in the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium,” said Gene Hoyme, M.D., Medical Director, Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium. “So much can be gained for the care of children through the collaboration of these hospitals.”

About the Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium
Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium is a collaboration of seven hospitals across the United States with a focus on integrating genetics and genomics into primary and specialty pediatric care. The mission is to develop clinical programs, advocate for children, direct and perform cutting-edge research and provide educational outreach in genomic medicine and pediatrics. The consortium is directed by Gene Hoyme, M.D., of Sanford Health, one of the largest health care systems in the nation, with 44 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and nine countries.  Member-hospitals in the consortium include Sanford Children’s (Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Fargo, North Dakota); Children’s Minnesota (Minneapolis and St. Paul); Children’s Hospital Colorado (Aurora); Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Rady Children’s Hospital – San Diego (all in California); Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center (Tucson, Arizona); and Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (Miami, Florida).

About Children’s Minnesota
Children’s Minnesota is the seventh largest pediatric health system in the United States and the only health system in Minnesota to provide care exclusively to children, from before birth through young adulthood. An independent and not-for-profit system since 1924, Children’s Minnesota serves kids throughout the Upper Midwest at two free-standing hospitals, 12 primary and specialty care clinics and six rehabilitation sites. Additionally, Children’s Minnesota is Minnesota’s only Level I pediatric trauma center inside a hospital dedicated solely to children. Children’s Minnesota maintains its longstanding commitment to the community to improve children’s health by providing high-quality, family-centered pediatric services and advancing those efforts through research and education. This work is made possible in large part by generous philanthropic and volunteer support from individuals and organizations throughout the state and region. An award-winning health system, Children’s  Minnesota received Magnet recognition from The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in 2018 and is regularly ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top children’s hospital. Please visit

Hayley Sitz