Obama Prioritizes Personalized Medicine

The President is launching a new initiative to help researchers and clinicians fully realize the dream of “precision medicine.”

Jan 26, 2015
Bob Grant

JANE ADES, NHGRI Science advocates certainly took note of President Barack Obama’s overtures to the American research enterprise in his recent State of the Union address. In particular, Obama’s brief announcement regarding what he called “precision medicine”—more commonly referred to as personalized medicine—piqued the community’s interest. “Tonight, I’m launching a new precision medicine initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes—and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier,” Obama said during last week’s address.

“As I was watching [the address] I was delighted,” Richard Weinshilboum, acting director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, told US News & World Report. “The timing is excellent.”

According to The New York Times (NYT), Obama’s initiative will be fleshed out more thoroughly when he presents his budget to Congress in the coming weeks. And the measure, for which Obama may request hundreds of millions of dollars, will likely have friends on both sides of the political aisle. “This is an incredible area of promise,” Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), told the NYT. “There will be bipartisan support.”

Advances in genomics have helped make personalized medicine a clinical reality in scattered instances, and several patients have benefitted from the tailor-made approach. Officials from both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the initiative would include money to fund research and regulatory mechanisms to evaluate new diagnostics.