On January 30, 2015, President Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative: a bold new research effort that aims to revolutionize the way we treat disease and improve health. While most medicine is designed with the “average patient” in mind, the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative aims to take into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles to improve patient’s health. By empowering patients, researchers, and providers to work together in developing individualized treatments, the Initiative could lead to powerful new discoveries and treatments for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and many more.
In fact, there are many patients, researchers, companies, entrepreneurs, and health care providers across the country who are leading the way, generating and using data to make progress on our most pressing medical challenges. For example, at the age of 12, Elana Simon was diagnosed with a rare type of pediatric cancer that affected her liver. Determined to learn more about the disease, as a high school student, Elana set out to work with other patients and researchers to study the characteristics of this specific type of liver cancer. By working with a precise patient group instead of a more general population of all patients with liver cancer, Elana and her team identified the specific change in DNA that leads to the development of her cancer and are now developing the first diagnostic tests and clinical trials for the disease. Elana, whose cancer is now in remission, is just wrapping up her freshman year at Harvard University.
This is exactly the kind of data-driven approach in which the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative aims to invest. Just as we identify and match blood types for transfusions, and customize prescriptions for glasses and contacts to the individual, this initiative aims to usher in an era in which we are able to improve health and treat diseases like cystic fibrosis, heart disease, and cancer based upon the characteristics of individual patients.
As Elana’s story also makes clear, there is already incredible work being done in this groundbreaking area of medicine. That’s why we’re calling on you to help us identify and honor individuals or organizations that are leading the way in health research and discovery by nominating a Champion of Change for Precision Medicine by midnight on Friday, May 29. Nominees may include:
Click here to submit your nomination (be sure to choose Precision Medicine in the “Theme of Service” field of the nomination form).
We look forward to sharing the outstanding work that individuals and organizations across the country are doing to advance our understanding of health and disease.
Stephanie Devaney is the Project Manager for the Precision Medicine Initiative at the White House.