What is "Personalized Medicine"?

Genetic factors play a role in the development of nearly every disease. Certain changes in genes cause an increased risk of development of specific diseases. Additionally, a person's response to certain medications is determined in part by genetic factors. The concept of personalized medicine is a lifelong, individually tailored health care approach to the detection, prevention and treatment of disease based on knowledge of an individual's precise genetic profile. Information gathered through this research project will help to make personalized medicine a health care reality.

Why is this research project being done?

The ultimate goal of this project is to learn how to apply genetic science to human health. The project will accomplish this in part by creating a Personalized Medicine Research Database containing three types of information about each volunteer research project participant. These information types are: genetic, which will come from analysis of blood samples; medical, which will come from information contained in medical records; and environmental, background, and family information, which will come from a questionnaire.

The database will then be used for many studies. Examples of the types of studies that could use the database include finding genes responsible for common diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and determining genes that predict a patient's responses to medicines, including adverse reactions. Additional studies could examine how environmental and genetic factors interact to cause disease or determine the distribution and importance of genetic variations. By comparing the genetic information, medical information, and information from the questionnaire, researchers hope to develop new tests or treatments to improve health care.