Communication Initiative Touts Personalized Medicine

When the human genome was sequenced in 2003, scientists around the world turned their collective attention to discovering what roles genetic variation plays in human health and illness.

Their goal: to use that knowledge to tailor disease treatment and prevention strategies based on an individual’s own DNA blueprint, a concept often called “personalized medicine.”

Today patients at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are starting to reap the benefits of this research. Vanderbilt is one of a few medical centers beginning to use DNA information to personalize care.

So far, the approach is being used to inform treatment selection for certain patients whose DNA makeup suggests that a particular blood thinner or statin may not work for them. It is also being applied in cancer care, where testing of lung cancer and melanoma patients’ tumors for genetic changes is guiding the selection of treatments targeting those changes.

Vanderbilt’s leadership in developing personalized medicine is at the heart of a new communication initiative, “Promise of Discovery,” which is being seen across the country in such media as CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

In addition to traditional media, the awareness campaign also leverages social media and interactive technology with My Health Chat, a monthly video chat that offers the chance to hear from and ask questions of researchers and physicians on the leading edge of medical advances.

The chats, which are streamed live on Facebook and, have covered the genome and cardiac care, personalized medicine for cancer, and innovations in children’s care. Other topics scheduled include autism and developmental disabilities, cancer drug discovery, neurosciences and diabetes.

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