Fed Report Calls on NIH to Blaze Personalized Medicine Trail

Personalized Medicine Watch by John Russell

October 14, 2008 | It’s a busy time on the personalized medicine front. The recently-released federal government report, Priorities for Personalized Medicine, is gradually attracting attention. The state of Wisconsin last week jumped into the race to become a center for personalized medicine. And a group of technology providers has joined Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) to study to what extent people make behavioral changes when they are provided with genetic screening and information about their various risk factors.

Back in 2001, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology were instructed to develop   suggested policy around personalized medicine’s needs. The result, Priorities for Personalized Medicine, is not all that profound—“HHS, should join with the private sector to create a public/private sector ‘Personalized Medicine R&D Roadmap’ for coordinating discovery and translational research in personalized medicine”—but it’s a start.

NIH is urged to take in lead in directing “critical investments in the enabling tools and resources essential to moving beyond genomic discoveries to personalized medicine products and services of patient and public benefit.” Specifically, the report calls on NIH to spur efforts to develop an integrated nationwide network of standardized biospecimen repositories and to fund academic/industry projects addressing biomarker standardization, statistical methods.

Meanwhile Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle today announced the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative, a collaborative research effort among the Marshfield Clinic, Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH) and UW-Milwaukee (UWM). Wisconsin has long been a leader in genomic research. The Marshfield Clinic has undertaken the largest population-based genetic research project in the country which approximately 20,000 people have contributed their DNA and given researchers access to their complete electronic health records.

The other big news last week was the announcement that MicrosoftNavigenics, and Affymetrix would join forces with the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) to launch a novel research study to assess the behavioral impact of personal genetic testing. The goal of the study is to discover if participating in personal genomic testing improves people’s health by encouraging them to make positive lifestyle decisions and medical monitoring.

The study will offer genetic scans by Navigenics to up to 10,000 employees, friends, and family of the nonprofit Scripps Health system in San Diego and monitor participants’ changes in behavior for two decades. Participants will report their lifestyle changes at 3- and 12-month intervals after they receive their Navigenics results. They will also take part in periodic health surveys over the next two decades. A complete database of genomic and clinical information will be maintained at the Scripps Genomic Medicine program. For more read the Bio-IT World article on the program.

Related Links
Priorities for Personalized Medicine report:

The Wisconsin initiative:

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