What is Precision Medicine?

Contemporary Issues and Concerns Primer

Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan

Published 02.26.18
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What is Precision Medicine? is a general audience white paper by Dr. Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan that introduces and outlines the emerging field of precision medicine; the effort to collect, integrate and analyze multiple sources of data in order to develop individualized insights about health and disease.

The primer outlines a number of key dimensions of precision medicine, including:

  • The evolution from personalized to precision medicine;
  • The focus of precision medicine research on collecting multiple forms of data, and harnessing the power of big data analysis; and
  • The tension between focusing on individual responsibility versus systemic intervention.

This primer draws on work conducted through the Fairness in Precision Medicine project, a year-long exploratory study supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that aims to identify tensions in the emerging data-driven health research space; the possibility for unintended consequences of the research process; and discrimination that could result from implementing data-driven research insights in health.

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