On Friday, President Obama invited many of the leading voices of the biomedical research community to the East Room of the White House to formally introduce the Precision Medicine Initiative, a plan first mentioned in his State of the Union Address last week. The ASBMB was in attendance, represented by Public Affairs Director Benjamin Corb and Science Policy Fellow Erica Siebrasse. The government officials who will be carrying out this initiative, including National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus and Congressional leaders U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., were also present.
Objectives of the PMI, as outlined in a white paper provided by the White House, include identifying more and better treatments for cancer, creating a national cohort of one million or more Americans willing to participate in research, committing to protecting patient privacy, improving the regulatory environment at the Food and Drug Administration to allow for faster approval of new technologies and emphasizing public-private partnerships.
On Monday, Obama will release his fiscal 2016 budget, which will include a $215 million request to fund the PMI. The program will purportedly pioneer a new model of patient-powered research to accelerate biomedical discoveries and provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge and therapies to select the treatments that work best for certain patients. The majority of the funding will go to the NIH ($200 million), with the FDA and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology receiving the remaining $15 million.
“We’re here to harness what is most special about America, and that is our spirit of innovation, our ability to dream and take risks and tinker and try new things,” said Obama as he outlined the importance of innovation to the American spirit in his remarks.
“We are pleased to see biomedical research playing such an important part of the President’s agenda going into 2015,” said Benjamin Corb in a statement on behalf of the ASBMB. “What is even more encouraging is the President reaffirming his commitment to discovery, as well as translating research into cures. We hope to see a budget that funds this exciting new initiative, as well as the grants that fund discovery at the NIH and are the foundation from which tomorrow’s cures will be built.”
Details of the PMI from the White House can be found by clicking here.