The year 2015 is surely a success story for medicine and healthcare, starting early with the launch of the ambitious Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) by the President in January during his State of the Union address. Since then, this year has brought us a flurry of activities related to this prominent initiative.

PMI’s goal is the enablement of personalized medicine in healthcare in which researchers, providers, and patients work together to develop individualized care. PMI will exploit the recent advances and confluences of next-generation DNA sequencing capabilities, the rise in technological innovations, along with recent gains in data management and computational capabilities to speed the development of personalized medical treatment options for patients. PMI executes on a variety of components with involvement of agencies across the federal government, in particular the NIH with its focus on cancer genomics.

The participant-centered PMI Cohort Program which has made substantial progress over the course of this year, with the NIH creating the working group of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Francis Collins (ACD) in March, the ACD developing a plan for creating and managing a large research cohort program which was presented and approved in September. Following was the announcement of the initial funding opportunities in November, and just this month was the launch of the beta precision FDA portal – a public community platform for NGS assay evaluation and regulatory science exploration. Last but not least, the White House in November released the Privacy and Trust Principles for the PMI, aimed at addressing public privacy concerns by establishing a framework for protecting participants’ personal data while, at the same time still ensuring to make essential research data readily and broadly available to qualified scientists.

Against the backdrop of these federal activities California on the state level was not sitting quiet either and launched in April its own precision medicine initiative: the CIAPM is a public-private effort kicked off by Governor Edmund Brown and led by Dr. Atul Butte, and is hosted by UCSF in conjunction with UC Health which comprises the University of California’s five medical centers.With this initiative two demonstration projects were selected that aim to yield quick results for patients: (1) a team led by David Haussler and Theodore Goldstein at UC Santa Cruz will develop a secure Internet-based networking system to match cancer therapies to individual children based on the genetic characteristics of their tumors, and (2) a team led by Charles Chiu at UCSF that focuses on how to use genetic sequencing to more precisely diagnose patients who are hospitalized with acute, potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. Both projects involve extensive collaborations within the UC system, as well as engagements with patient advocates and commercial companies.

Just as the year is drawing to a close the varying 2016 PMI activities were further substantiated with the mid-December call by congress to provide science a large financial boost, resulting in a $32 billion proposed budget for 2016, of which $200M are allocated to precision medicine alone.This budget is just a start however, since it has been estimated that the large PMI cohort program aimed at sequencing the genome of one million Americans will by itself cost about $2 billion. Only two days after the budget announcement, the NIH called for Input on strategies to start physical exams and collection of biological samples for the cohort program in the new year. With these rapid timelines in mind the foundation for a successful participant enrollment has been laid.

Given all of the above, what better way is there to ring in the New Year with a conference that brings forward and discusses the highlights of these significant developments that are changing the practice of personalized medicine, and that enables you to be among the first to hear from experts and stakeholders where the field is moving to, what the next phase in this area will look like, and how it will impact you and your business. PMWC 2016 Silicon Valley secured a great lineup of speakers and representatives, including Robert Califf (FDA), Kathy Hudson (NIH), Dr. Atul Butte (UCSF and conference program chair), Dr. David Haussler (UCSC), Dr. Chiu (UCSF), and over 200 speakers. Come join us for this information-rich gathering of the minds by registering today: it is not too late!

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