Director's message: Making medicine more precise

Volume 4, Issue 2, 2015


Research funding is needed so that more patients can benefit from precision medicine.

Photograph of Robert B. Diasio, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

In the last State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted his support for precision medicine. The related media coverage focused the nation's attention on research being done at many medical facilities across the U.S., including the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Precision medicine, also called individualized medicine, allows physicians to use information about a patient's personal genetic makeup to help determine the best way to prevent, diagnose or treat a particular disease. This exciting field of medicine was made possible by scientists mapping the human genome in 2003.

The Human Genome Project was an immense international collaboration that took 13 years and cost $3.8 billion, but the payoff on that investment is estimated to be nearly $800 billion.

Knowledge of the human genome is steadily making its way into patients' lives. We see this in advances such as Cologuard, an at-home screening kit for colorectal cancer that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved.

Co-developed by Mayo Clinic and Exact Sciences Corp., Cologuard tests DNA from a patient's stool sample for genetic alterations associated with colorectal cancer. The at-home test eliminates the need for a colonoscopy for front-line colorectal cancer screening, and it could ultimately boost screening rates.

Innovations like Cologuard require research. Research requires funding. We need to encourage our legislators to continue funding scientific research so that patients in the U.S. and around the world can benefit from precision medicine.

In this issue of Forefront, read the latest news about how researchers at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center are working to make patient care more precise.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor