Hinting at the mandate of the ongoing “genomic-prospective medicine collaboration” between Duke University Medical School and Craig Venter’s TCAG, Ralph Snyderman, CEO and president of Duke University Health System, says genomics will be a key to revolutionizing the nation’s “very cumbersome, backward-looking healthcare system.”
Snyderman, who spoke at TIGR’s GSAC meeting in Savannah this fall, predicts that the crucial factors affecting medicine in the next century will include genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, medical technologies, and informatics. He wants to see a shift away from reactive, “fix-it” medicine toward proactive, prospective medicine, where healthcare would begin with personalized risk assessments for all patients.
Using biomarkers, genomic data, and clinical information, a physician would be able to provide each individual with an understanding of which chronic diseases (such as cancer, coronary disease, or diabetes) he or she has a particular susceptibility for — with, of course, the knowledge that a genetic predisposition is also tempered by environmental and lifestyle factors, Snyderman says. Patient and doctor would work together on a lifestyle and healthcare plan covering possible therapeutics or procedural treatments to help prevent the diseases.
Despite early pilot studies at places such as Duke, Snyderman acknowledges that getting to the risk-assessment stage would be no small feat. In addition to a complete mentality shift, he says, prospective medicine will need improved informatics, a literature-mining panel, and scads more research. The Duke/TCAG collaboration brings together medical, scientific, technology, and bioethics professionals from the two institutions.
— Meredith Salisbury