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Dysfunction and the Medical Revolution

The federal sequestration is cutting back or halting grants that fund "potentially groundbreaking" personalized medicine research funded by the National Institutes of Health, Institute for Systems Biology President Lee Hood opines.

Taking his pen to the pages of The Hill, Hood writes that political three-way fisticuffs between lawmakers in both houses and the White House that led to the sequester — an across-the-board five percent whack to all agency budgets — could imperil advances in personalized medicine research that ISB is pursuing.

Hood praises the promise of what he calls P4 medicine, the convergence of new big data and genomic technologies to develop "medicine that is predictive, personalized, preventive, and participatory."

The forward march of P4 will bring about a new type of medicine, Hood writes, that will improve care through diagnoses and targeted therapies. It also will save money in the long run because new and better treatments and predictive medicine will "reduce the skyrocketing costs of healthcare" and help create new "wellness sector" markets and companies that don't yet exist, he says.

"In 1986, the automated DNA sequencer I invented was first brought to market, paving the way for the Human Genome Project completed in 2003. In 2010 alone, human genome sequencing activities generated $67 billion in US economic output and created 310,000 US jobs," he says.

Hood doesn't want to see a dysfunctional political culture on Capitol Hill hinder the advance of these technologies, markets, and medical innovations.

"On the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Human Genome Project, we can't let the ongoing tug-of-war in Congress over spending priorities threaten the revolutionary work that is taking place in medical science," he writes.