What Is Precision Medicine, and How Will It Affect You?

President Obama wants to change the way we think about medicine, one gene at a time

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In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama announced plans for a "Precision Medicine Initiative." But what exactly does that mean?

Precision medicine is a form of personalized medicine that would use the human genome to create better medical treatments. Scientists have gained a vast amount of knowledge by sequencing the human genome, and this new plan will help bring that knowledge into doctor's offices and hospitals to create more effective medicines. Not only could treatments change for the better, but doctors could help patients prevent certain diseases they may be more at risk for. (Did you know Exercise Can Change Your DNA?)

"Tonight, I'm launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes-and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier," Obama said in his speech.

He didn't go into details about how the initiative will work, but some speculate it will involve more funding to the National Institutes of Health, which has previously stated its commitment to research in personalized medicine. (Make sure to read 5 Real-Life Takeaways from Obama's West Point Speech for more from the President.)

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