Two weeks ago, Barack Obama presented a “precision medicine initiative”. But is what the money go to really “precision medicine”?
It seems that a major sum, $130 million, will go to the NIH to develop a database of 1 million individuals with genomic data and hospital records. That is $130 per included individual. How can that be even a remotely sufficient investment, as genome sequencing is $1000 per person?
$70 million will go to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer, supporting novel more personalized medicines. Now, that is obviously a “precision medicine” initiative, as more effective and hopefully less toxic medicines will be developed.
$15 million will go to database searchability and protection of personal data. Nothing to be said about that…
In summary, I have mixed feelings about this initiative. Specifically, I am skeptical that sequencing a million genomes will help the development of precision medication. Understanding the diversity in the genome may be an interesting question in its own right, but the last twenty years of genome research has shown that very few diseases are directly connected to specific sequences or “single-nucleotide polymorphisms” in our DNA.
To develop novel precision medicines we rather need to understand the diversity of specific diseases, including asthma, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases and inflammatory diseases, which scientists today call “disease phenotypes” or “endotypes”. By understanding molecular mechanisms involved in subgroups of disease, more personalized and efficient precision medications can be developed for future generations. Genetics will not be the answer, but more comprehensive and translational approaches are necessary, first describing molecular mechanisms of subgroups of disease, thereafter developing treatments targeting those specific mechanisms. That would be a true precision medicine investment.
Over the last few years I have been quiet here on the WordPress blog, after having been quite active on http://www.isevmeeting.org and facebook, primarily in relationship to the extracellular vesicles scientific community. I hope to revive this blog though, with more personal comments on science and personal reflections on life in general.
Right now, I am looking very much forward to lead a course specifically focusing on extracellular vesicles, at University of Palermo (July 8-12). Is this the first real university course on extracellular vesicles (“exosomes and beyond”), directed towards university students and not PhD students or scientists??? Thank you Riccardo Alessandro for inviting me to Palermo!
After that, a few weeks of rest awaits… LOOKING FORWARD!! The first half of 2013 has been quite intense…
It was such a fantastic moment to hand over a once in a lifetime award to Bill Frankland during the openinig in Istanbul. Bill is almost 100 years old, and the price was a celebration of 100 years of immunotherapy (3 minutes 52 seconds into the clip).
Thank you Bill for making the effort to come to Istanbul to receive this acknowledgement, and to celebrate the history of immunotherapy together with the EAACI family.
It has been great to be the President of EAACI, and it was a pleasure of opening the 3oth congress, acknowledging the long efforts in immunotherapy by Professor Bill Frankland (Albert William Frankland), and awarding Gabrielle Pauli, Tony Frew (Anthony J Frew), Erika von Mutius and Gianni Marone.
Here is a movie of my opening words, and below the scribble that I had on my iPad to remember what to say…
MY OWN NOTES:
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guest, dear colleagues,
I warmly welcome you to the 30th congress of the european academy of allergy and clinical immunology in Istanbul.
One word that comes to mind INSPIRATION
to stand here in front of you all.
YOU the closest friends
YOU the body and soul of EAACI,
YOUR presence here makes EAACI great.
ACTUALLY the purpose congress is INSPIRATION
Inspired by each others
By leader – to interact
Most importan YOUNG scientists
There are several individuals especially acknowledge for developing the EAACI congress.
Ömer and turkey team
Cezmi, christian, lars paulsen
The hq susanne congrex team
2011, is INSPIRATIONAL YEAR
exactly 100 years ago
10th 1911, Leonard Noon the Lancet.
EAACI is celebrating many ways
the scientific programme, plenary session, events and schools
Today, special day
We will present the Noon Award.
A process of nomination and voting:
One of the most inspirational individuals in the field of allergy ever, a past secretary general of eaaci, a past president of eaaci, our grandfather of allergy, who published the first controlled study in immunotherapy.
Who am i talking about? Of course a person that himself is turning 100 years old next year, Professor William Frankland.
true inspiration to us all,
grew your own allergens in the early days. You built the base of our specialty,
for this we will be thankful for ever.
The Noon award to Bill Frankland
I must say that just handing over this award was an honour in itself
Four EAACI awards every year
Four exceptional individuals
Erika von mutius
Gp Clements von pirquet mol allergol
Ajf charles blackley backbone built much activities EDUCATION and SPECIALTY
erika vM leading epidemiologist, hygene hypothesis
gian Mar mast cell biology naples 2002
Big hand to awardees
We have had an exceptional evening at the 30th EAACI congress, opening ceremony. We have handed out the once in a lifetime award for contributions in immunotherapy to Bill Frankland, to celebrate the 100 years of immunotherapy after the Noon paper in the Lancet. We have had a great opening ceremony in the emotional heart of Turkish society. And we had a welcome reception outdoors without being exposed to the rain the metereologists were talking about…
Thank you Ömer, and Turkey, and all friends of EAACI
Current President of EAACI
It is with huge pleasure that I can welcome all readers to the 30th EAACI congress in Istanbul, and the opening ceremony today on the 11th June 2011. Today it is 100 years + one day since Leonard Noon published his historic paper on Immunotherapy “PROPHYLACTIC INOCULATION AGAINST HAY FEVER” in the Lancet. EAACI is celebrating this in many ways, one being the handing over of the “once only” Leonard Noon award, to the investigator that first published a controlled trial in immunotherapy, William Frankland. Bill was also a Secretary General and a President of EAACI, around 50 years ago, and still energetic and ambitious on his 99th year. The 2011 EAACI congress promises to be a fantastic event, with the best scientific programme possible, in the exciting surrounding of Istanbul. Thank you to Ömer Kalayci, the Congress President, as well as Lars Paulsen and Christian Virchow, who have coordinated the Scientific programme committee to produce this excellent programme. And also huge thanks to Cezmi Akdis, the current vice President of Congresses, Susanne Rothschild, the congress manager of EAACI, as well as the Congrex team, that have all contributed to create this exceptional event. I look forward to seeing you in Istanbul in the next few days.
EAACI President for another two days.
Stating ”race” enforces racism? Should the US Census ask people to state “race”?
On the web site of Time magazine, US Census Bureau Director Robert Groves is interviewed http://ti.me/jxmHcq. He is reporting that a large number of US citizens state more than one race. In Europe we do not state “race” when counting the population, because it is so difficult to understand what it means. And it supports feelings such as racism.
The New York Times had a series of articles on the topic earlier in the year http://nyti.ms/hf5trL. More and more Americans do not know what to tick when they have to state “race”. Personally I think the term “race” should be skipped, as it more describes social structures and history, rather than genetically important differences. Actually, race implies that the individuals “phenotype” is related to “geographic ancestry” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(classification_of_humans). The definition is certainly drifting away from the genetic definition, towards a more social explanation. However, it is also discussed that scientific studies through the twentieth century has found no biological basis for the classification of race, and perhaps a primary factor in racial classification has been the social conventions established during the colonial period. For example, what is “African American”. There is no clear definition to be found, except “at least one ancestor from sub-saharan Africa”. If we reverse that definition, it is absolutely clear that Barack Obama is IRISH (next time, plese do not tick “black or African American”! Actually, tick nothing…
I think the US Census should stop requiring citizens to state“race” because it is a term that enforces racism http://bit.ly/ilkptl. One could just as well describe “culture”, because that would better explain how society develop and how cultural interactions shape the world. Most NY-times readers seem to agree http://nyti.ms/e6tE6k.