12:00 AM
Feb 12, 2015
 |  BC Innovations  |  Finance

Precision decision

Despite its small size, the Precision Medicine Initiative spawns much discussion

President Obama's $215 million Precision Medicine Initiative might be a drop in the ocean of the overall NIH budget, but it has launched waves of discussion in the field.

On Feb. 2, Obama unveiled his FY2016 budget containing a planned $31.3 billion for NIH. But his focus three days earlier had been on a fraction of that amount designated for a new effort to personalize disease treatments based on a host of genotypic and phenotypic data.

The initiative's proponents argue that its power is not in the size of the investment but in the attention it is bringing to the intersection of medicine and big data. But some have questioned the functional impact it will have on precision medicine.

David Shaywitz, CMO of genomics company DNAnexus Inc., told BioCentury, "It's not that the amount of federal money that's going into this will somehow change everything, but what it does through the convening power of the presidency is call out the fact that this is real. I think it's going to help various stakeholders to make decisions - the question you always face whether you're at a hub or at a pharma company is, 'Is this the time to really get serious about these integrated data sets?' And there's a lot of converging evidence that it is."

Indeed, a combination of the falling costs of data collection and the potential unlocked by the growth of mobile technologies has prompted movement in Washington.

Kathy Hudson, deputy director for science, outreach, and policy at NIH, told BioCentury, "What enables us to do this now is that there have been advances in our knowledge and our technology that permit this to be undertaken in a reasonably cost-effective...

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