For Medical Daily health reporter Samantha Olson, the idea of doing an in-depth story on precision medicine was planted in May when she was one of 20 national health reporters invited to Rochester, Minn., to immerse themselves in precision medicine. The National Press Foundation hosted a four-day program at Mayo Clinic so the journalists could better grasp the complexities and issues of precision medicine.
The program was timely. With President Barack Obama launching his Precision Medicine Initiative, the National Press Foundation believed it was imperative that journalists become more knowledgeable about precision medicine — also called individualized or personalized medicine. For four days Olson and her journalism colleagues attended seminars put on by some of the foremost experts in the country on precision medicine.
National Institutes of Health leaders, Gary H Gibbons, M.D., Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering made presentations. The agenda also included experts from the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, University of Minnesota and Stanford University. Topics for the seminar included the Human Genome Project, pharmacogenomics, biomarkers and imaging, bioethics, epigenetics and big data in genomic research.
Like a southeast Minnesota cornfield, it took a few months for the seeds of Olson’s idea for a series on precision medicine to germinate and grow. Now, we can all enjoy the harvest. This week Medical Daily published the first in a five-part series on Your DNA, Decoded. The first installment, “The Next Step in Human Genomics: Precision Medicine,” was written by Olson, who tweets under the handle, @snowrite124. She explores the background of precision medicine. As she notes, individualized medicine is as old as Hippocrates, who said six thousand years ago, “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”
But until we decoded the human genome, truly individualized medicine had been more a dream than reality. No longer. Alexander Parker, Ph.D., the Cecilia and Dan Carmichael Family associate director for the Center for Individualized Medicine in Florida, told Olson, “What we needed, what we always wanted, was the equivalent of a GPS, where all roads and everything was known and we could look at the entirety of it all at once and find answers instead of trying to guess where to look. The reason why we’re here is we got our GPS when we cracked the code and sequenced the first human genome. The wait is over. Medicine is changing and transforming. We have moved from promise to practice.”
Here is Olson’s full story, “The Next Step in Human Genomics: Precision Medicine.”
The next installment, scheduled to be published Friday, September 18, is “For Cancer Patients, the Possibility of DNA-tailored Care.”
The final three installments on the precision medicine series are scheduled for September 21, 23 and 25.
Be sure to log on to Medical Daily next week and follow this important and timely series on precision medicine.
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