Sen. Klobuchar discusses precision medicine during visit to Rochester
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) made a stop in Rochester Friday to show her support for President Barack Obama's new precision medicine initiative.
Klobuchar first toured the Mayo Clinic Biorepositories' new facility in northwest Rochester, then met privately with Mayo officials to discuss the president's plan.
"One of the things we've realized over time with medicine is that one size doesn't fit all," said Klobuchar, noting that Mayo has been an early leader in individualized medicine.
Pres. Obama announced last month a major initiative to begin investing in precision medicine, the practice of tailoring treatments to a patient's genetic makeup. The plan would allow scientists to begin collecting and analyzing data from about a million volunteers.
The Mayo Clinic has been represented at meetings about the president's initiative. Klobuchar said she's hopeful the clinic will receive some of the $215 million in proposed funding.
"If we aren't the ones doing this, someone else in the world is going to do it," said Klobuchar. "We want the research going on in Rochester and in the Twin Cities."
Sen. Klobuchar said she will use a case of sex trafficking in Rochester to push forward a bipartisan bill to combat human trafficking in the U.S.
Lee A. Paul, 34, was indicted this week in Minneapolis on a charge of sex trafficking a minor. Paul is accused of kidnapping and raping two young girls from the Rochester area, and then trying to sell them for sex.
"The case in Rochester is an example that this can happen anywhere in the United States," said Klobuchar. "I plan on using this case as one of the examples of why we need to pass the bill."
Klobuchar's bill is modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law, which helps make sure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants but are instead treated as victims. The bill would also strengthen the National Human Trafficking Hotline by ensuring it’s backed by the full force of law
More than 27 million people around the world are victimized by trafficking each year, according to Klobuchar's office. In Minnesota, recent reports indicate that on any given night dozens of underage girls are sold for sex online.
Calling Cuba an "exciting opportunity," Klobuchar called on Congress to pass legislation to repeal America's trade embargo with the island nation.
"If we can open up this embargo, it will mean a lot of jobs in Minnesota," said Klobuchar. She estimated that the state's $20 million in agricultural exports to Cuba could double if the bill is passed.
The senator was part of a Senate delegation that visited the country earlier this week. Pres. Obama announced in December plans to normalize diplomatic relations with the former Soviet ally.
Klobuchar's bill, which has bipartisan support, would repeal key provisions of previous laws that block Americans from doing business in Cuba; it would also left the travel ban.
Klobuchar said the positive impacts of lifting the embargo would not be limited to agriculture, and that local industries like medicine and technology could also benefit.
"They specifically mentioned Mayo because they know they send patients from Cuba to Mayo," she said, referencing conversations she had with Cuban leaders.
(Cover photo: The Med City Beat)