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The Genomics Landscape

President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative

NHGRI Director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.
Eric Green
By Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
February 5, 2015

You are receiving February's The Genomics Landscape a few days later than originally scheduled - but for good reason! I wanted to wait to feature last week's historic announcement that very much involves the field of genomics. I was fortunate to be in the East Room of the White House along with a number of other National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Insitutes of Health (NIH) colleagues to hear President Obama announce the Precision Medicine Initiative. It has been an honor to be part of the extensive planning effort leading up to last week's unveiling, and it will be gratifying to have NHGRI involved in making this important initiative a reality. I fully expect that future The Genomics Landscape editions will feature updates on the Precision Medicine Initiative.

I am also pleased to point out that the Smithsonian-NHGRI exhibition, Genome: Unlocking Life's Code, is now open at its second stop on a North American, multi-year tour - in this case, in San Jose, California. Specifically, the exhibition is being featured at The Tech Museum of Innovation through April 27, 2015. For details about the exhibition and future stops on its tour, see or

This month's The Genomics Landscape features stories about:

Finally, the next meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research (NACHGR) will be held beginning Monday, February 9. To watch the Open Session, visit at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

All the best,


President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative

Extending on the announcement made in his recent State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama outlined a bold, new Precision Medicine Initiative at a White House event last Friday, January 30. This exciting new enterprise will draw on the remarkable advances in multiple domains (particularly genomics!) to increase our understanding of human disease, revolutionize how we approach medical care, and greatly improve human health. The time is ripe for a major focus on precision medicine research - major advances in genomic technologies, electronic health records, technologies for capturing environmental and lifestyle information, data science, and the availability of numerous existing research cohorts, will foster the growth of this enterprise.

The Precision Medicine InitiativeCurrent medical practice cannot always account for differences in treatment response, but examples of being more "precise" in the delivery of medical care for a given individual are now emerging. For example, two people may metabolize the same drug at different rates due to inherited genomic variants that influence drug-metabolizing pathways. Precision medicine approaches use genomic information about a patient to determine the optimum choice of drug and dosage. Other compelling examples of precision medicine are emerging in the arena of cancer treatment. Individual tumors can vary greatly in the genomic changes that produce their cancerous properties. These differences are highly relevant in selecting the appropriate treatment for each patient.

President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative aims to greatly accelerate the research needed to take advantage of great technological advances and to integrate them into medicine. There is quite a bit of information available about this exciting initiative. You can start by hearing the President's first announcement during his State of the Union Address at (specifically at 28:58 - 29:56) or his more detailed announcement from last Friday, January 30. Meanwhile, last week, Drs. Francis Collins and Harold Varmus published a description of the Initiative in the New England Journal of Medicine. Finally, you can follow the progress of the Precision Medicine Initiative at the White House and the NIH.

Silhouettes of people on the map of U.S.A.A major component of the initiative will be the establishment of a national, patient-powered research cohort of one million or more Americans. To jumpstart the planning for such a cohort, NIH is holding a workshop, entitled Precision Medicine Initiative: Building a Large U.S. Research Cohort. This workshop will be held on February 11-12, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the first day. I invite you to tune in via the webcast at to view what promises to be an important and engaging discussion.

Precision medicine offers great promise and, in many ways, represents a cornerstone for the long-term vision of genomics research. I personally - and NHGRI more generally - find President Obama's commitment to this new initiative both gratifying and inspiring.  While many challenges will undoubtedly be faced in the coming days, weeks and months in making the President's vision a reality, that hard work promises to lead to us into a new and exciting era of medical advances.

More from the Genomics Landscape

NIH News of Interest

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy Takes Effect - January 25, 2015

Rare Disease Day - February 28, 2015

Appointment of Dr. Carrie Wolinetz as Associate Director for Science Policy, NIH

Funding News

NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards FY2015

Notice of Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Stipends, Tuition/Fees and Other Budgetary Levels Effective for Fiscal Year 2015

Genomics Research

Ferreting Out Genomic Secrets

Certain Genetic Variants May Influence Progression of Kidney Disease

NIH Researchers Tackle Thorny Side of Gene Therapy

NIH-Funded Study Uncovers Range of Molecular Alterations in Head and Neck Cancers, New Potential Drug Targets

Genome Advance of the Month

Researchers Detect Cancer Precursors in Blood DNA Before Disease Develops

Upcoming Webcasts

National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research - February 9, 2015

Precision Medicine Initiative: Building a Large U.S. Research Cohort - February 11-12, 2015 - Day 1 and Day 2

New Genomics Videos

Trans-NIH Workshop to Explore the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Citizen Science

Framework for Regulatory Oversight of Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) - Day 1 and Day 2

Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA) Gene Therapy - Charles Venditti and Randy Chandler

Funding Opportunities

NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Biomedical Data Science Training Coordination Center (U24)

NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Enhancing Diversity in Biomedical Data Science (R25)

Metabolomics Core for the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) (U01)

NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00)

Nuclear Organization and Function Interdisciplinary Consortium (NOFIC)(U54)

Empirical Research on Ethical Issues Related to Central IRBs and Consent for Research Using Clinical Records and Data (R01)


CHANEL-CERIES Research Award 2014 - Julie Segre

Rare Voice Award 2014 - William Gahl

National Society of Genetic Counselors Leadership Award 2014 - Barbara Biesecker

South African Medical Research Council Scientific Merit Award 2014 - Charles Rotimi

American Journal of Human Genetics C.W. Cotterman Award 2014 - Shurjo Sen

Fellowship Opportunities

ASHG-NHGRI Genetics & Public Policy Fellowship

ASHG-NHGRI Genetics & Education Fellowship

Past editions of The Genomics Landscape can be accessed at Director's Page Archive

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Last Updated: February 5, 2015
Posted: August 4, 2008