This week marks the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project, a roughly 10-year, $3-billion, international effort to determine all 6 billion letters (3 billion base pairs) of human DNA.
It was a major scientific achievement funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, several international governments, private capital, dozens of academic and research medical centers, and it included participation and collaboration from thousands of public and private scientists around the world.
In a recent Q&A with the New York Times, Dr. Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute, discusses just how far we've come -- It's a really long way. And what he sees for the application of this work -- which Dr. Green plans to share here at Mayo Clinic as the keynote speaker at the Individualizing Medicine 2013 Conference.
The first human genome bluebrint consisted of bits of DNA from several blood donors interested in scientific advancement. It showed the world that it could be done, and the work signified the starting of a race to reshape the ways to diagnose, treat and prevent disease in the individual patient.
In any case, it was 13 years ago, at the presidential briefing pictured above, that Clinton forecast four transformation changes to the way we practice medicine:
- Alert patients that they are at risk for certain diseases
- Reliably predict the course of disease
- Precisely diagnose disease and ensure the most effective treatment is used
- Developing new treatments at the molecular level
"I became director of this institute three and a half years ago, and I remember when I first started going around and giving talks. Routinely I would hear: 'You are seven years into this. Where are the wins? Where are the successes?'
"I don’t hear that as much anymore. I think what’s happening, and it has happened in the last three years in particular, is just the sheer aggregate number of the success stories. The drumbeat of these successes is finally winning people over."
Now, we're taking these technologies into patient care with programs like the Individualized Medicine Clinic, which brings genomics into care of patients with advanced cancers and difficult diagnoses.