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What, precisely, is the precision medicine initiative?

First of all, it’s a big deal, high on President Obama’s agenda and with its own page on the White House Web Site

Near term goals

One immediate goal of the Precision Medicine Initiative will be to significantly expand efforts in cancer genomics to create prevention and treatment successes for more cancers.

But the long term goals are broader

the Initiative will 1) support a national network of scientists who possess the talent and skills to develop new approaches for answering critical scientific and medical questions and 2) launch a national cohort study of a million or more Americans to propel our understanding of health and disease. The goal is to set the foundation for a new way of doing research that fosters open, responsible data sharing with the highest regard to patient privacy, and that puts engaged participants at the center.

Precision Medicine Initiative logo

You’ll soon recognize the PMI logo

Some specific research questions would be to:
  • Identify genomic variants that affect drug response
  • Assess clinical validity of genomic variants associated with disease
  • Identify biomarkers that are early indicators of disease
  • Understand chronic diseases and best management strategies
  • Understand genes/pathways/factors that protect from disease

In the process, we will learn about EHRs, mhealth, patient engagement and new research methodologies.

Transparency

Workshops conducted by the PMI Working Group are open to the public if space is available, and can be viewed on webcasts. The recent workshop on Participant Engagement and Health Equity (July 1 and 2, 2015) was phenomenal, and worthwhile catching the video.

HEALTHy 2015!

Happy and healthy new year to all.

Looking forward, looking back, resolutions, predictions. There’s so much of that as the old year winds down and the new year comes in, and I decided to take my pick.

I’m looking forward to more collaborations in 2015 – both in the sense of projects to work on, but also, in the larger sense of increased collaboration health research cutting across sectors of the health community. I’ve been noticing a tendency for initiatives to involve more and more stakeholders and sectors, to create larger databases, to increase enrollment in studies, to obtain patient input, and for all the other good reasons out there.

An example is the Optum Labs collaboration to pool health care data, and translate research findings into improvments in patient care. Some partners include AARP, Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, Pfizer – you get the picture. What a welcome change from only a few years ago, when these organizations worked in isolation from each other!

Another massive collaborative health research effort is the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP), a public-private partnership to develop methods for using observational healthcare databases to study medical products. Partners include PhRMA, FDA, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. The effort has led to another collaborative, Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI, pronounced “Odyssey”), a multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary collaborative to bring out the value of health data through large-scale analytics.

Collaborative health research is definitely in the air, and that is a fantastic change in the way we do things.

The UCSF blog put together its “Top Trends in Health and Science for 2015”, and second on their list is “Breakthroughs in Teamwork” with this quotation from Matthew State, MD, PhD, chair of Psychiatry,

One of the major drivers of recent progress has been a wholesale shift in culture. Investigators who were once fierce competitors are now finding ways to collaborate with one another in large-scale, multi-site genomic studies.

If someone else besides me is saying it, it must definitely be true! UCSF began an initiative in 2013 to promote team science, and they are taking serious measures to alter the academic climate and foster team approaches,

While scientific research is collaborative in its core, the traditional academic model rewards investigators who get primary credit for their research successes, including first or last authorship in published articles.

Here’s to more teamwork and collaboration in 2015, and lots of high quality science.

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