Medical Advancements To Look Forward To This Year #2: Precision Medicine

2. Precision Medicine

On January 20, 2015 in his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, which laid out an endeavor to improve health care for the better. As I sat there listening to his speech, I asked myself: “So what exactly is precision medicine?” Let’s try to understand it with an example.

 

President Barack Obama holds a precision medicine meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 3, 2014. Seated, from left, are: Eric Lander, Co-Chair, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy; Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; John Podesta, Counselor to the President; Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell; Shaun Donovan, Director, Office of Management and Budget; Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health; and Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama holds a precision medicine meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 3, 2014. Seated, from left, are: Eric Lander, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology; Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy; Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; John Podesta, Counselor to the President; Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell; Shaun Donovan, Director, Office of Management and Budget; Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health; and Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

A large majority of people in the medical community and the populated world recognize that the obesity epidemic is real. Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, human beings are on a much more accelerated track towards cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, and many other grave conditions. Conventional management of obesity focuses on losing weight by eating less and exercising more, simple as that. After all, that must be the one answer to solve this seemingly humongous global problem? Perhaps not.

 

Precision medicine advocates for a different approach. Rather than painting the whole world in such broad strokes, the initiative strives to integrate genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors, and any other such crucial contributors in order to develop a model that best predicts the reasons behind disease and consequently how best to tackle it. As we already know, most people who try to lose weight gain it back soon afterwards. So there must be a reason (or perhaps multiple) behind this conundrum that expands beyond the mere fact of calorie control. In order to find the answer, precision medicine is the new kid on the block to watch this year.

 

If you have been following my posts, you know I love TED Talks. Here’s another great one that sheds some more light on precision medicine and its various caveats.

Video: Source

 

Related Link: A World of Genetic Data at Your Fingertips

 

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Yash Pandya

Yash Pandya is a science writer at The "Almost" Doctor's Channel. He is a rising third-year student at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Emergency Medicine with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. Yash plans on attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Fall 2016 with guaranteed admission. In addition to the usual humdrum of academic involvement, Yash loves to play Ping Pong, catch up on the latest "Big Bang Theory," and travel. Having lived in India for half his lifetime, Yash aspires to expand his horizons into international healthcare by practicing medicine globally.