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Panel Detail

Of the person, by the person, for the person: The road to precision medicine

Monday, November 02, 2015
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
GH-Ballroom II-IV


Margaret Anderson, Executive Director, FasterCures


Tony Coles, Chairman and CEO, Yumanity Therapeutics
Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health
Isaac Kohane, Chair, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School
Bray Patrick-Lake, Director, Stakeholder Engagement, Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative, Duke University; Co-Chair, NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group, Precision Medicine Initiative; Senior Fellow, FasterCures

Of the person, by the person, for the person: The road to precision medicine
Along with technology, a culture of collaboration is key to the federal initiative

"Seven years ago when we started Partnering for Cures, some of these concepts like precision medicine and patient-centricity seemed a little fanciful to many people, but the landscape has changed." Margaret Anderson, executive director of FasterCures, began the conference's opening plenary discussion by asking her distinguished panelists to describe the federal Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) and put it in the context of the broader move toward precision medicine that is sweeping the healthcare system.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins laid out the vision for the PMI, announced by President Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address, and the work that has gone into crafting an implementation thus far. One key feature of the initiative will be the building of a million-person cohort to participate in, and contribute their data and samples for, research. "This is going to change everything, but it's going to be a heck of a lot of work," Collins acknowledged. He hopes the "big, hairy audacious goal" of the PMI will inspire researchers and other stakeholders to be involved. But in what became a recurring metaphor during the session, he noted, "You can't herd cats, but you can move their food," referring to the incentives created by new NIH funding and the requirements that will come with it.

The other panelists concurred that the PMI presents a unique opportunity, given the confluence of the genomic revolution, our growing ability to track environmental influences on our health, increasing public interest in participation -- not just participation, but partnership -- in research, and more appetite for collaboration.

Much of the discussion centered on three themes:

In closing, Patrick-Lake urged the audience to view the PMI as an "opportunity to break down the silos and have investigators collaborate across lines. See the mutual benefit, kick down some doors, and make it part of the culture."