President Barack Obama’s ambitious 1-million-person personalized medicine study began to take shape this week with the announcement of four medical centers that will recruit volunteers starting this fall. A fifth center aims to sign up 350,000 participants by blasting the general public with ads coming soon to your web browser or mobile phone.
The White House’s announcement yesterday of $55 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) fires the starting gun for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Cohort Program. The plan is to recruit 1 million or more people who are willing to share their health and genetic information over many years to help researchers develop individualized treatments. Other countries have similar studies underway, but the U.S. version aims to be larger, more diverse, and more patient-centric—participants will help shape the study and be able to see their data. NIH Director Francis Collins calls it “the largest, most ambitious research project of this sort ever undertaken.”