The White House is reporting that President Obama will ask Congress for $215M for what he is describing as “a precision medicine initiative.”
The ambitious goal: Scientists will assemble databases of about a million volunteers to study their genetics — and other factors such as their environments and the microbes that live in their bodies — to learn how to individualize care.
The president also referenced this initiative in his State of the Union speech when he said he wanted America “to lead a new era of medicine, one that delivers the right treatment at the right time.”
This field of research is also known as personalized medicine. “For example, it’s becoming more common for patients with certain cancers to undergo molecular testing in choosing which drug is their best match. People with a rare form of cystic fibrosis now can choose a drug designed specifically to target the genetic defect causing their illness. Some medical centers, such as the Mayo Clinic, have opened “individualized medicine clinics.”
The Mayo Clinic? Sounds great, why the need for federal funding?
Fox News writes,
But only recently has the cost of genomic sequencing dropped enough, and the computer power of medicine increased, to make it possible for large-scale pursuit of the approach, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, which will lead the initiative.
The hope is to “harness the power of science to find individualized health solutions,” Collins said.
The price has dropped? Even better! Looks like the free market is working exactly as it should. Let’s keep that going.
Details of the new initiative are still being worked out. The NIH plans to use volunteers as well as existing databases from genome studies.
Who wouldn’t want to turn over their genetic information to the government? What could go wrong?