What is the Precision Medicine Initiative?

In early 2015, President Obama announced a research effort focusing on bringing precision medicine to many aspects of healthcare. The President’s budget for fiscal year 2016 included $216 million in funding for the initiative for the NIH, the National Cancer Institute (NCI; the NIH institute focused on cancer research), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Precision Medicine Initiative has both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals involve expanding precision medicine in the area of cancer research. Researchers at the NCI hope to use this approach to find new, more effective treatments for various kinds of cancer based on increased knowledge of the genetics and biology of the disease. The long-term goals of the Precision Medicine Initiative focus on bringing precision medicine to all areas of health and healthcare on a large scale. To this end, the NIH plans to launch a study involving a group (cohort) of at least 1 million volunteers from around the United States. Participants will provide genetic data, biological samples, and other information about their health. These data will be used by researchers to study a large range of diseases, with the goals of better predicting disease risk, understanding how diseases occur, and finding improved diagnosis and treatment strategies.