Precision Medicine Initiative

January 23, 2015

At the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama announced his new "Precision Medicine Initiative." Dr. David Roth, director of the Penn Medicine Precision Medicine Program and acting director of the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, explains the complexities and the challenges of precision medicine in an interview with WHYY's The Pulse. As Dr. Roth said, "We have a lot of the tools that we need, we have a reasonably good idea of where we want to go, and now we just need to have the funding to get there."

WHYY's The Pulse also interviewed Dr. Jennifer Morrissette, Clinical Director of the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, on the origins of precision medicine that can be traced back to the Philadelphia Chromosome, discovered 55 years ago. As the radio report notes, the "phrase 'precision medicine' is getting a lot of buzz right now, and this area of research could lead to more success stories like Gleevec. But the concept of the right treatment at the right time for the right cancer has deep roots... roots that trace back more than half a century, to a microscope in Northeast Philly."

In conjunction with the presidential address, Dr. Roth also appeared on the SiriusXM POTUS radio show to explain how precision medicine helps diagnose individuals more accurately. Doctors are able to pinpoint a particular kind of illness a patient has and treat it more effectively, instead of a process of trial and error. With new tools available through precision medicine, extremely accurate diagnoses become possible. One analogy Dr. Roth offered was a personal eye exam versus using glasses off the rack from a drugstore. As he said, such an approach "might make your vision better, it might make you vision worse, and it's almost certainly not going to give you the best vision."