NIH and FDA Officials Join UCSF Chancellor to Talk Precision Medicine

April 30, 2013

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, joined Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Peggy Hamburg, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to talk about precision medicine in the lead up to the OME Precision Medicine Summit at UCSF.

Listen to "Health Care Leaders Push for 'Precision Medicine'" on KQED

Or download a PDF transcript of the interview.

The three appeared Tuesday on KQED's "Forum With Michael Krasny" radio show for an interview titled, "Health Care Leaders Push for 'Precision Medicine.'"

UC San Francisco is convening some of the world’s foremost thought leaders for a two-day summit on Thursday to chart the course of precision medicine, an emerging field aimed at revolutionizing health care. Desmond-Hellmann, Collins and Hamburg are among the 170 thinkers, creators and innovators from across many sectors to focus on activating the future of precision medicine.

The approach, which is still evolving, would harness the wealth of data available from the human genome and the subsequent wave of research into the molecular basis of disease and integrate it on both a personal and global level with information on environmental factors and patients’ electronic medical records.

This data would then inform both laboratory research and clinical care, and ultimately lead to better and more personal and predictive care.

While often used synonymously, “personalized medicine” – using advanced tools such as genetic screening to guide an individual patient’s treatment – is just one aspect of precision medicine.

Precision medicine involves the creation of a dynamic infrastructure in which the patient would be the linchpin – where patients’ health information (including genetics, blood test results, responses to medications and reactions to therapies) would be accessible to scientists – and where discoveries made in the laboratory could inform patient care.

Simply put, the practice of precision medicine would allow scientists to share emerging research findings faster, drug companies to develop more precise therapies, and clinicians to make more informed decisions about treatments that would ultimately improve care, save lives and reduce health care costs.

Editor's note: This story was updated on April 30.