Precision Medicine: A Moon Worth Shooting For

Mary Beckerle, Ph.D., CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute makes the case for Obama's precision medicine initiative in an op-ed pubished in the Salt Lake Tribune.

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." — President John F. Kennedy

Critics have questioned the wisdom of spending $215 million on President Barack Obama's "moonshot" precision medicine initiative, arguing it's bound to fall short of expectations. Human genetics and the underlying biology of stubborn diseases like cancer, they say, are too complex to solve with money and political will.

As CEO of University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), I'm the last person to downplay the complexity of cancer. Cancer is a collection of more than 200 diseases, decidedly more complicated than scientists imagined when they launched a 13-year, $1 billion effort to sequence the human genome. But imagine where we'd be without taking that bold step.

Moonshot? Perhaps. But we sequenced the human genome, and we made it to the moon.

Medical breakthroughs take visionary leadership, courage and a willingness to push the limits of human knowledge. It's these very ingredients that gave rise to a unique resource critical to the early development of the concept of precision medicine: The Utah Population Database.

Read more

Medical Breakthroughs Take Visionary Leadership