The Promise of Precision Medicine
Education & Research Since coming into her role as Secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell has committed herself to working across government and the private sector to deliver impact for the American people.
The promise of precision medicine is delivering the right treatments, at the right time, to the right person. It is through this promise that we are given one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs that we have ever seen.
Bold new grounds
For a small but growing number of patients, that future and the promise of precision medicine is already here. Eight out of 10 people with one type of leukemia saw white blood cell counts return to normal with a new drug targeting a specific gene. Genetic testing for HIV patients is helping doctors determine who will be helped by a new antiviral drug, and who will experience harmful side effects.
"It’s in the interest of our health and our children’s future to make these breakthroughs happen."
In addition, the advancement of technology means these breakthroughs could just be the beginning. Interoperable Health Information Technology allows physicians and researchers to share information more closely—ultimately helping to deliver the right treatment to the right patient at the right time—while protecting patient privacy.
Inching toward a cure
That’s why President Obama’s budget includes a new Precision Medicine Initiative that brings America closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes, and gives all of us access to the personalized information that we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.
There are many examples of precision medicine and the promise it holds for the future care of patients across the country. Recently, I got to meet one of those patients, Laura Holmes-Haddad from San Rafael, California. In November 2012 she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. After traditional chemotherapy failed, she started participating in a new clinical trial of what’s called a “PARP inhibitor.” PARP is an enzyme involved in DNA repair. Since August of 2013 she’s been cancer free.
Medical breakthroughs take time, and this area of precision medicine will be no different. It’s in the interest of our health and our children’s future to make these breakthroughs happen. It’s in our economic interest to make sure they happen here. If we seize this moment, and focus the energy and the resources that it demands, there is no telling how many lives we could change. And every single one of those lives matter.
That’s who we are as Americans, and that’s the power of scientific discovery.