The White House today revealed a price tag and other details of the precision medicine initiative announced in President Obama’s State of the Union address last week. As expected, much of the $215 million proposed to launch the multi-agency initiative in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October, will support building a cohort of 1 million American volunteers for genomics and other biomedical research. Another chunk of money will fund efforts to understand the genomes of cancer cells.
Precision medicine, a term for tailoring treatments to an individual’s genetic makeup, microbiome, and other factors, is “a game changer” that “holds the potential to revolutionize the way we approach health in this country and ultimately around the world,” said Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in a call with reporters yesterday to discuss the initiative. The $215 million will be new money added to agencies' budgets, not funds redirected from existing programs, added National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins.
As ScienceInsider previously reported, the centerpiece of the initiative—funded with $130 million in 2016--will be a longitudinal research cohort consisting of at least 1 million volunteers. Such large cohort studies of both healthy and sick people that represent the general population—often referred to as biobanks—are already established in countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan.