Obama budgeting $215M to new precision medicine plan

President Obama will try to budget $215 million for his new precision medicine program, with plans to build a huge database that contains the genetic information, medical records and other information of more than a million Americans. It’ll largely involve aggregating already-existing patient data from volunteers, with the intent to help doctors and researchers understand […]

President Obama will try to budget $215 million for his new precision medicine program, with plans to build a huge database that contains the genetic information, medical records and other information of more than a million Americans.

It’ll largely involve aggregating already-existing patient data from volunteers, with the intent to help doctors and researchers understand the genetic backbone of many diseases.

Reporters were briefed on the Obama’s plan during a phone conference Thursday.

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“This research will dramatically advance our knowledge of diseases, how they originated and how we may prevent or treat them,” said Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.

The President’s new budget is scheduled to be released Monday, in which Obama will allocate the money, The Hill said. He first indicated the federal government’s interest in this during his State of the Union address on January 20. The Hill says:

The bulk of the initiative’s funding — $130 million — will be earmarked for developing a cohort of one million or more research subjects to help scientists conduct long-term disease studies. This effort will be undertaken by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Another $70 million will go to the NIH’s National Cancer Center to increase research into the genetic drivers of cancer.

Another $10 million will go to the Food and Drug Administration, as it regulates the technology used to regulate sequencing, the New York Times said. And $5 million will go to beef up health information technology so researchers can safely work with HIPAA regulations.

The new database shouldn’t be viewed as a biobank, the The New York Times adds:

Researchers have been collecting and storing human tissue and other biological specimens since the 1990s in repositories known as biobanks.

“We do not envision this as being a biobank, which would suggest a single repository for all the data or all the samples,” said Jo Handelsman, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “There are existing cohorts around the country that have already been started and have rich sources of data. The challenge in this initiative is to link them together and fill in the gaps.”