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No Greater Validation: NIH Seeks to Procure Data-Rich Human Biospecimens From 1M Patients

October 1, 2015

White House

What a time to be alive! Moving forward with the Precision Medicine Initiative, for which President Obama has earmarked $215 million from the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has outlined its plans to create and manage a database containing medical records of 1 million Americans. The goal is to enable a new era of tailored, customized medicine through new research, new technology, and new policies that empower patients, scientists, and providers alike.

Why does this matter? Anyone questioning or wondering about the importance of availability of high quality human biospecimens, look no further. The fact that our nation’s largest precision medicine initiative will depend on procuring one million patients worth of them is undeniable validation of their value.

Learn More About Human Biofluids

The NIH’s share of the $215M allotment is $130 million, which is envisioned to fund the research cohort as well as lead efforts in cancer genomics. The government clearly sees value in utilizing such specimens for research in order to advance healthcare or they wouldn’t have taken all the time to outline a 107-page report around it. The databank is intended for researchers to examine genetic roots of some of the world’s most intractable diseases. The NIH’s work will focus not only on accelerating new opportunities in cancer genomics, but also on developing a long-term approach to all diseases. It will enable clinical trials of targeted therapies and use data from mobile health devices to correlate activity, physiologic measures, and environmental exposures with health outcomes.

This is a win/win for all involved as research shows patients are largely supportive of contributing specimens for the advancement of biomedical research. The NIH is looking to tap into altruists who wish to see health and medicine advance, a population that seems to be growing. “Participants will be partners in research, not subjects, and will have access to a wide range of study results. What we’re doing with the Precision Medicine Initiative cohort is intersecting in a synergistic way with other fundamental changes in medicine and research to empower Americans to live healthier lives,” said Francis Collins, Director of NIH in a separate statement. Participants are expected to start enrolling as early as next year.

For more information about the precision medicine initiative, please view the following resources:

The Value of Human Biospecimens for Cancer Research in the US
NIH Precision Medicine Initiative

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