Will precision medicine revolutionize patient care? Panel discussions at upcoming Bio International Convention


Precision medicine is yielding promising results in treatments of certain diseases, including cancer and cystic fibrosis. It takes a greater and sustained national commitment to accelerate progress that accounts for individual variability in the genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person, and move the concept into clinical practice to benefit more patients.

One such commitment has been made by President Obama through the Precision Medicine Initiative, with a $215 million investment in the President’s FY16 Budget. One immediate goal of the Initiative is to significantly expand efforts in cancer genomics to shape the development and use of some cancer treatments. The NIH Innovation Fund in the 21st Century Cures draft legislation will further support precision medicine.  

On June 17, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, M.D. will discuss opportunities and challenges with precision medicine in a keynote address that kicks-off the Personalized Medicine & Diagnostics track at the BIO International Convention. 

“To accelerate the pace of demonstrating clinical benefits, this initiative seeks to expand current cancer genomics research to understand the development of resistance to targeted therapy, to apply non-invasive methods to track patients’ responses to treatment, and to explore the efficacy of new drug combinations targeted to specific tumor mutations” Collins told a Congressional committee on April 30. 

While the initiative has received bipartisan congressional support and great enthusiasm among scientists and patient advocates, a major concern is the rising costs of drugs, including personalized medicines. Collins said in the long-term, precision medicine could likely reduce health care costs by providing a more effective way to treat disease particularly for individuals who have a specific form of a disease or disorder.

The “Precision Medicine: Revolutionizing Today’s Healthcare” panel discussion on June 16 will focus on progress and outlook of precision medicine. Panelists include John L. Brooks III, President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center; Felix Frueh, Chief Scientific Officer of Human Longevity, Inc.; Craig Lipset, head of Clinical Innovation at Pfizer Inc.; and Sanjeev Wadhwa, CEO of Digital Health Venture.

The BIO International Convention, to be held in Philadelphia June 15 – 18, attracts more than 15,000 scientists, biotech leaders and entrepreneurs to provide insights and inspirations on major trends in the industry.  Research!America will participate in the Alliance Pavilion at the convention. For more information, visit www.convention.bio.org.

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana