WH’s Precision medicine initiative aims to revolutionize health care

WH’s Precision medicine initiative aims to revolutionize health care

By Ellen Ratner   
Published
President Obama delivers his address to the nation. (Photo: Pete Souza)

"My hope is that this becomes the foundation, the architecture, whereby 10 years from now we can look back and say we've revolutionized medicine," Obama said to a panel attending the White House summit on the matter.

WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – President Barack Obama described the ambitious White House Precision Medicine Initiate on Thursday, saying that big data, genomics and cross collaboration can lead to a revolution in medicine.

“My hope is that this becomes the foundation, the architecture, whereby 10 years from now we can look back and say we’ve revolutionized medicine,” Obama said to a panel attending the White House summit on the matter.

One of the main goals of the initiative is to have people donate their health data and their genomes for analysis. Obama cited privacy issues and patient access to this health data as a primary concern, but said this is an issue that can be sorted out.

Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH), which will receive the bulk of the projected $309 million in imitative funding, said the goal is to get a cohort of a million people to donate their data. He predicted that it would take 3-4 years to assemble and enable those volunteers.

Using this data, scientist would work to map the causes of diabetes, mental illness, obesity, heart disease as well as other more unusual diseases. The goal is to connect genetic data with questionnaires regarding lifestyles and a person’s environment. The more genetic samples, “the more we can learn,” Obama said.

Project curators want to see veterans enrolled, and as of today 455,236 have signed up to take part in the study.

This project empowers patients to not just to be patients, but to be partners in this research, allowing then to elect their data to go into research projects of their choice and to make this “human centered design,” Obama said.

When Dr. James Hamblin spoke as part of the summit, he said that previous health care was ineffective or inefficient, and the goal is to develop databases and pool the information.

Obama called the current system of health care a “disease care system”, where people wait wait until they are sick to seek health. The goal in all of this, he said, is to “empower individuals.”

When asked if this initiative could solve the epidemic of people dying from drug overdoses, the President said that a lot of people don’t have basic health care, and they put off pain management, and it then becomes less expensive to get heroin than refilling a prescription.

Obama also said the White House had a recent meeting on the Zika virus, and progress is being made on the vaccine front.

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