In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he’s launching the Precision Medicine Initiative — a bold new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease.
Until now, most medical treatments have been designed for the “average patient.” As a result of this “one-size-fits-all” approach, treatments can be very successful for some patients but not for others. Precision Medicine, on the other hand, is an innovative approach that takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles. It gives medical professionals the resources they need to target the specific treatments of the illnesses we encounter, further develops our scientific and medical research, and keeps our families healthier.
Advances in Precision Medicine have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics, such as a person’s genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual’s tumor. This is helping transform the way we can treat diseases such as cancer: Patients with breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, as well as melanomas and leukemias, for instance, routinely undergo molecular testing as part of patient care, enabling physicians to select treatments that improve chances of survival and reduce exposure to adverse effects.
And we’re committed to protecting your privacy every step of the way. The White House is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to solicit input from patient groups, bioethicists, privacy and civil liberties advocates, technologists, and other experts, to help identify and address any legal and technical issues related to the privacy and security of data in the context of Precision Medicine.