The Precision Medicine Initiative: An Opportunity for the Exposome?

Last Friday President Obama discussed the Precision Medicine Initiative. A few of the objectives of the initiative are outlined below:

  • More and better treatments for cancer
  • Creation of a voluntary national research cohort
  • Commitment to protecting privacy
  • Regulatory modernization
  • Public-private partnerships

Although this initiative has an obvious genetic focus, there is room for incorporating environmental contributors to disease. With the recent NIEHS Exposome Workshop in mind, there is a striking parallel between some of the workshop’s prioritized recommendations and that of this initiative. One of which is the creation of a national research cohort that incorporates a diverse range of data. Beyond medical records, this would include genetic information, metabolomics, microbiome characterization, environmental and lifestyle data, and personal device and sensor data.  Another is the emphasis of public-private partnerships that would allow for things such as the rapid development of new personal sensor devices and the advancement of analytical and computational methods beyond what public research funding allows.

To accompany these initiatives, the President’s 2016 budget request to congress will include a financial investment towards these efforts.

  • $130 million to NIH for the development of the voluntary national research cohort
  • $70 million to NCI to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers of cancer
  • $10 million to FDA for database development that supports the regulatory structure needed for these efforts in precision medicine and public health
  • $5 million to ONC to develop standards needed to enable secure data exchange across systems

Read more about the initiative here