Genomic Institute

The Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine

Tracy, Savannah and Dr. Joseph Gleeson

Imagine waking up and the first thing you do is check if your daughter is still breathing. That was the life for Tracy Dixon-Salazar when her daughter, Savannah, started having seizures as a toddler. Savannah was eventually diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

Over her lifetime, she has experienced more than 40,000 seizures. In 2011, Dr. Joseph Gleeson at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, who researches the cause of neurological conditions, sequenced Savannah's DNA, which revealed 25,000 genetic variations. The variations were then analyzed to understand which ones might be the cause of her condition.

After months of poring over the data, the cause was discovered: Savannah had several mutations in her calcium genes, which can affect muscle contractions. Dr. Gleeson thought that by treating her with drugs called calcium channel blockers, the seizures could be controlled. And he was right. The drugs had a dramatic effect, reducing Savannah's seizures by 80 percent. Because of genomic research and the technology to sequence her genome, Savannah can live life. And Tracy can sleep at night.

What is Genomics?

Genetics and genomics are at the core of modern life sciences. Gene and genome-centered approaches are essential in the investigation of basic biological mechanisms, disease susceptibility and response to therapeutic interventions. With the growing knowledge of the human genome and the tools and technology to decode our DNA, we have entered a new era of medicine.

Our Vision

Our vision is to build the infrastructure that will make it possible to sequence the genome of every child who is treated and cared for at Rady Children’s. This will dramatically increase our ability to diagnose disease and develop effective treatments to improve children’s lives and save lives. Thanks to generous support from Ernest Rady and the Rady family, and a commitment of additional support from the Hospital, we are on our way to realizing this vision. Learn more.

The Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine is a groundbreaking pediatric research facility, bringing together the talent, technology and resources to transform the diagnosis and treatment of childhood diseases.

The Institute seeks to:

  • Translate research findings into new clinical tests and treatments to improve patient outcomes.
  • Enhance the knowledge in this field among current and future healthcare providers.
  • Generate and share data and discoveries with other researchers.

The Institute will bring together world-class scientists and clinicians into a shared research infrastructure, one that will enable them to accelerate the translation of research discoveries into prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately cures for childhood diseases. The Institute will serve as a center of excellence for organizing the resources necessary to effectively translate the discoveries of genetic and genomic research from “bench to bedside.” It will work closely with UC San Diego and establish relationships with other academic and research institutions, companies involved in genomics research and other children’s hospitals to advance the mission of the Institute. The Institute will develop an integrated approach to personalized medicine that will include epigenomics (how environmental factors contribute to disease), metabolomics (how substances involved in metabolism influence disease) and proteomics (how proteins are linked to disease). This research will provide us with a comprehensive view of a child’s health status and risk factors for disease.

Our Plan

The promise of genomics

With support from our community, the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine is uniquely positioned to make a significant impact on the future of pediatric medicine in San Diego and beyond. Support is needed for:

Retrofitting of existing space

The Institute will utilize two strategically selected locations: 7910 Frost Street, adjacent to the Rady Children’s campus, and a location in the Torrey pines area of San Diego (which is close to the UC San Diego campus and numerous research institutes).


The Institute will recruit world-class physician-scientists to conduct genomic and systems medicine research as well as bioinformaticists, who develop and use advanced methods and tools to understand biological data.

Creation of a shared research infrastructure

The Institute will have a shared research infrastructure; specifically, a robust shared research IT infrastructure, or Bioinformatics Core.

Training and education

Investments will be made in innovative training and education programs linked to the Institute and its research and clinical missions.

The Impact

The next five years will be critical in shaping the future of pediatric research and care. And genomics and systems medicine research will play key roles. Your support will help us transform pediatric medicine. It will help us achieve our goal of becoming a major local, national and international center for pediatric clinical and translational research. Most important, it will help us to improve lives and save lives of children in our region, across the country and around the world.

Donate Now

For more information on funding needs for the Institute, contact Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation at 858-966-5950. Naming opportunities are also available.

In the News

Pediatric genetics researcher returns to Rady, U-T San Diego

Rady Launches Birth Defects Project, U-T San Diego

Rady Auxiliary Gets its Genes On, U-T San Diego