The White House last Friday proposed providing $215 million in funding for a sweeping effort involving the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to help fulfill the promise of what President Barack Obama has termed precision medicine.
“Precision medicine has given us one of the greatest opportunities that we have ever seen in medical research,” Obama said at a White House news conference Friday. “The time is right to unleash a new wave of advances in this area.”
The bulk of the funding, $130 million, will be given to the NIH, which plans to weave together existing cohorts of the genomic database and recruit new volunteers in an effort to create a million-patient-strong cohort.
Another $70 million will go to the NIH's National Cancer Institute to scale up current efforts to link genomic variation and cancer, along with potential treatments.
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said during a conference call Thursday announcing the policy that the investment reflects the relative maturity of genomic efforts in cancer treatment.
The FDA would receive $10 million to hire new subject-area experts.
The agency, beginning with a public meeting in February, also intends to update its regulations to deal with the particular challenges posed in assessing the safety and efficacy of genomic sequencers and the tests that analyze their data.
The ONC would receive $5 million to promulgate new interoperability standards to make genomic data more uniformly shareable.
Tales of researchers sending thumb drives and compact discs through the mail, rather than sending data electronically, are common.