When President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative in his 2015 State of the Union address, the plan to recruit a cohort of 1,000,000 or more American volunteers to provide biological, environmental, and health information over an extended period of time made headlines because of its ambitious scope and exciting medical promise. The idea, however, was not a new one. As the Human Genome Project was wrapping up in 2003, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute sought to set the NIH off on another bold genetic initiative—to create a large, longitudinal, national cohort that would allow for examining the genetic and environmental contributions to health and disease. The path from that initial idea in 2003 to the public announcement at the State of the Union address in 2015 is a story of technological advances, logistical challenges, ethical dilemmas, and political hurdles. That historical legacy also reveals a great deal about what we can expect (and not expect) from the Precision Medicine Initiative.
Precision Medicine—an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person—raises a myriad of cultural, political, and historical questions that the humanities are uniquely positioned to address. As part of its overall Precision Medicine Initiative, Columbia is undertaking a broad based exploration of questions that precision medicine raises in law, ethics, the social sciences, and the humanities.
The event is free and open to the public. Columbia University is committed to creating an environment that includes and welcomes people with disabilities. If you need accommodations because of a disability, please email Liz Bowen, at email@example.com, at least two weeks in advance.
This event is part of the Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative’s series, Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics, and Culture.