Dr. Wylie Burke is Professor and Chair of the Department of Medical History and Ethics at the University of Washington. She is also Principal Investigator of the University of Washington Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality, an NIH-funded Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research. Her research addresses the social, ethical and policy implications of genetic information.
"Nevertheless, claims of a new medical paradigm based on genomics merit careful scrutiny. The exhortation to prepare for a “genomics revolution” often assumes that genetic risk is different in kind from other health risks."
"Each new genetic test will need to be evaluated and assessed to demonstrate that the overall health benefits exceed the harms before it is implemented in practice. The fundamental
principle is that genetic risk information will be useful only if it guides more effective, or more cost effective, use of medical interventions than can be achieved without the risk information."
Personalized medicine has always been a component of good medical practice. Genetic tests may provide new tools, but they do not change the fundamental goal of clinicians
to adapt available medical tests and technologies to the individual circumstance of their patients. As genetic tests become widely available, personalized medicine will include
assisting patients to make wise use of genetic risk assessment, taking into account the cautions discussed in this article. When genetic testing is used, the personalized nature
of the care will extend well beyond the patient’s base pair sequences.
The good Dr Burke is pointing to careful clinical care and continuity of care being key to personalized medicine. I agree that not all personalized medicine is genetic. That is why no report printed on a sheet of paper will achieve the goal of personalized medicine.