What is Precision Medicine?

Precision Medicine tailors the understanding of our health to our specific health needs. This tailored understanding gives us what we need to make the most of preventive care options and allows doctors to choose medicines and treatments of most benefit to each of us.

Precision Medicine has great promise for relieving health disparities, health differences linked to molecular differences and/or social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage.

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Precision Medicine & Health Disparities

The Precision Medicine and Health Disparities Collaborative’s unique assets and resources spark new ways to understand diseases in African American and Hispanic / Latino groups and to treat diseases in those communities. Better understanding in and for these groups improves health for everyone.
All humans share many common characteristics, even though we are all completely unique. Similarities are especially noticeable in our biology. We are all made of cells that do all the work we experience as life. Researchers are learning more every day how our genes (genetic factors), where we live and work (environment factors), what we eat and we do (lifestyle factors), and what we believe (cultural factors) affects our common biology making the uniqueness of our lives. Because of the combination of genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and cultural factors, the way any one disease shows up in some people is not the way it shows up in all people.

For example, for reasons not yet known, asthma is seen more often in African Americans and generally has more serious symptoms in the African Americans, too. Looking at how the different factors might be causing that means looking at asthma in African Americans compared to others – so studying asthma across the subsets of the population who have similar genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and cultural factors and similar asthma features. By studying in and across subsets of people, and by people identifying their subset through genetic testing and answering environmental, lifestyle, and cultural questions, researchers and health care providers can understand and provide treatment more effective for a person’s unique biology.

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Three projects are funded as part of the Center. In a study led by the University of Miami, we will develop new statistical methods to predict risk of disparities, starting with cervical cancer. Vanderbilt University Medical Center will examine genetic risk factors contributing to health disparities and will characterize the relative contribution of genetic risk factors for asthma and preterm birth, two conditions with substantial disparities in health outcomes among African Americans and Latinos. Vanderbilt University will lead a study of person-specific obesity treatment for African American and Latino Men.

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The Center includes five cores: The Administrative Core, Consortium Core, Implementation Core, Training and Mentoring Core, and Biorepository and Clinical Data Core.

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