Janine Morales, PhD On Applying Precision Medicine More Strategically With Molecular Testing
In this episode, Janine Morales, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Trapelo Health takes us inside the complex world of evidence-based decision making in oncology. Specifically, she explains how having access to a real-time knowledgebase and a team of experts that curate current clinical evidence can empower providers to make more appropriate decisions at the point of care.
Morales began her career as a bench scientist and soon realized she wasn’t satisfied with focusing on one, specific scientific question. She says she always felt that scientific developments are outpacing our ability to relay these findings to those who use them, and she often wondered how to make physicians comfortable with having so many new options.
She says that while we've seen success using precision medicines to tailor treatments, applying precision medicine more effectively requires an evidence-based assessment of how well that genomic information leads to or predicts the likelihood of response. Morales notes that after 2018, there was an uptick in eligibility for genome-targeted therapy but that a deeper understanding of the details of new studies is needed to utilize targeted drugs in a way that really optimizes patient care.
“It's about improving the process of precision medicine. You can have all that information out there, but if you can't present it to the clinician at the right time, it isn't very valuable,” says Morales.
She adds that as more and more data comes out and patient populations are stratified into smaller and smaller subsets, physicians need a system in place to filter that information and deliver it to them at the point of decision-making.
Morales says, "So, we're precisely defining a population, but those populations are getting smaller and smaller.” That presents an operational challenge to physicians and the healthcare system. She continues by saying, “If they offer a drug that benefits a patient population, I think we should ensure that all the patients that qualify are given access to that.”
She points out that physicians need the most up-to-date clinical evidence at the point of care to make appropriate decisions, and Trapelo’s clinical decision-support system was built on top of a robust knowledge system to do just that. The platform identifies appropriate biomarkers, labs, tests, and therapies in a way that closes the knowledge and communication gap that exists in clinics and helps eliminate testing disparities.
Morales adds that payers benefit from knowing the clinical evidence is being followed at the point of care. Having confidence that physicians are testing the appropriate biomarkers and that testing and treatments are being chosen based on evidence allows payers to balance what’s right both clinically and financially. This new approach streamlines prior-authorization and eliminates friction along the path of providing patient access to life-changing drugs.
We’re always grateful for our time with Janine on the podcast because she is so knowledgeable about the challenges of applying precision medicine in the practice. We hope you tune in to hear more of what she has to say.
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About Our Guest
Janine Morales, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Trapelo Health
Janine Morales joined Trapelo Health in 2011 and oversees a team of editors and curators with deep expertise in molecular oncology. Her group is responsible for maintaining the company’s comprehensive knowledgebase, which summarizing published data pertaining to molecular biomarkers as predictors of response to targeted therapies in oncology. Janine also led the development of the company's framework for the systematic evaluation and synthesis of molecular clinical evidence as well as the principles guiding the presentation of molecular evidence in patient-specific reports.
She brings 15 years of editorial and information management experience in the biotech and medical sectors and was a member of research and development teams at Elan Corp. and DNAX Research Institute (acquired by Merck & Co). Janine received a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester and earned her PhD in Pharmacology from the University of California, San Francisco.