Personalized Health Care: Unlocking the Potential of Genomic and Precision Medicine

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President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative has refocused national attention on the ability of genomics and other emerging technologies to provide a better understanding of the relationship between genetics, environment, lifestyles, and the development of disease. This initiative was heralded as a “bold new research effort to revolutionize how to improve health and treat disease”. Yet, in 2000 the sequencing of the human genome was also anticipated to lead to new ways to personalize medicine and to prevent, diagnose, and cure disease. While there have been major advances in diagnosing and treating disease, the goals for personalized medicine to improve health and prevent disease have not yet been achieved. Despite the benefits of more targeted disease treatments, the real promise of personalized/precision medicine lies in its ability to prevent disease and improve health as, in addition to the human cost, our nation spends almost 80% of its unaffordable health care expenses on treating complex, chronic diseases which are preventable. Research in precision medicine will certainly provide new capabilities to improve health and minimize disease, but to actually do so, the approach to the practice of medicine must change so it is prepared to use them.

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