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White House unveils initiative to expand personalized health care

White House unveils initiative to expand personalized health care

(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The White House is taking a chapter out of Mayo Clinic's playbook.

Pres. Barack Obama on Friday announced a major initiative to begin investing in precision medicine, the practice of tailoring treatments to a patient's genetic makeup. The AP notes the $215 million plan would allow scientists to begin collecting and analyzing data from about a million volunteers.

“You can match a blood transfusion to a blood type. That was an important discovery,” said Pres. Obama, according to a report by Al Jazeera America. “What if matching a cancer cure to our genetic code was just as easy, just as standard? What if figuring out the right dose of medicine were as simple as taking our temperature? That’s the promise of precision medicine.”

The concept is nothing new for many patients in Rochester. Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine already offers genomic testing to patients in order to further personalize care. 

"We are pleased and heartened that President Obama plans to increase federal funding for precision or individualized medicine, which Mayo Clinic views as integral to the future of health care," said Richard Weinshilboum, the center's acting director, in a statement following the president's first mention of the initiative in last week's State of the Union address.

More than half the total $215 million budget request put forth by Pres. Obama's initiative is for a national biobanking initiative that draws on existing collections across the country, according to blog post by the Mayo Clinic on Friday. 

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Mayo Clinic already has one of the largest collections through the Mayo Clinic Biobank and the Biorepositories Program, according to the post.

Jo Handelsman, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said repositories, from Mayo and others, will play a major role in the president's initiative.

"We do not envision this as being a biobank, which would suggest a single repository for all the data or all the samples," said Handelsman, according to a report by the New York Times. "There are existing cohorts around the country that have already been started and have rich sources of data. The challenge in this initiative is to link them together and fill in the gaps.”

More information about the initiative is available on the White House website.


(Cover photo: File / Creative Commons)

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