In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama announced a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease. According the White House website, the Precision Medicine Initiative, as it’s called, will pioneer a new model of patient-powered research that promises to accelerate biomedical discoveries and provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients.
Last week, we learned that the one million patient research cohort at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) could begin enrolling patients in the next fiscal year.
As noted by the NIH, “Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. Many efforts are underway to help make precision medicine the norm rather than the exception.”
The NIH is currently finalizing a plan for the cohort that will be reviewed by their research advisers and then must receive a sign-off from NIH Director Francis Collins.
Kathy Hudson, NIH’s director for science, outreach, and policy, believes the funding for the cohort will be approved by Congress, noting that Senate and House appropriators will invest $200 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative.
In addition to necessary funding, the cohort initiative will require policy updates, including those for protection of human research participants. Also, patient access to fully interoperable electronic health records will need to be improved.
As the original Politico article notes, “Hudson said NIH is working with the Senate to include any necessary policy updates for the initiative into its biomedical reform legislation. The chamber’s work is expected to ultimately synch with the House’s recently passed 21st Century Cures bill.”
For more information on precision medicine and the Precision Medicine Initiative, visit nih.gov/precisionmedicine.