Precision medicine debate hits University campus

Posted: February 16, 2015 at 3:41 am

Health care professionals nationwide are tangled in a discussion regarding the ethics and regulations of the growing field of precision medicine.

Also known as personalized medicine, the field aims to analyze patients genes so doctors can home in on treatments specific to each person.

As the talks have intensified in recent years, concerns over privacy and insurance discrimination are colliding with benefits like predicting disease contraction and better, more-personalized treatment.

The debate hit the University of Minnesota campus on Thursday with the start of a lecture series focusing on the standardization and policies of precision medicine.

Heidi Rehm, a Harvard University pathology professor, gave the first in a three-part lecture in the Universitys Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and Life Sciences series.

Her lecture comes soon after President Barack Obamas announcement of a plan late last month that calls for a major biomedical research initiative that would create a biobank, or a collection of genetic data, on one million Americans.

If Congress approves Obamas proposal, it would put individualized medicine more easily within doctors reach.

Rehm, who studies precision medicine, said how the technology is used and the way results are interpreted should become more standardized than they currently are.

University law professor and consortium chair Susan Wolf said the difference in technology and interpretation of genomes needs standardization.

Right now its kind of a tower of Babel, Wolf said. And thats really tough on patients that may get different answers from different labs.

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Precision medicine debate hits University campus

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