Recognizing the growing importance and promise of personalized medicine, the federal government launched the Precision Medicine Initiative with President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2015.
A key component of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) is the creation of a national research participant group, called a cohort, of 1 million or more Americans to expand our knowledge and practice of precision medicine. What is the cohort program?
Cohorts are used in a type of medical research known as an observational study. A prospective cohort study uses defined groups of people who are followed over time to see who experiences an outcome of interest. Cohort studies are useful when experimental studies are not feasible. Cohort studies are notable in requiring large numbers of people that are studied over long periods of time, particularly for less common diseases. For this reason, the PMI Working Group determined that in order to efficiently carry out the goals of the PMI, a very large cohort will be assembled over a period of 3-4 years. Researchers will be able to identify subsets of the cohort suitable for their specialized studies without having to resort to developing their own cohorts.
The participants will volunteer to provide medical history and biological specimens that will be available to researchers studying a variety of diseases and conditions. The cohort will represent a broad cross section of the U.S. population from diverse social, racial/ethnic, and ancestral populations living in a variety of geographies, social environments, and economic circumstances, and from all age groups and health statuses.
The information obtained from the cohort will include individual variabilities in genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. This knowledge will be used to develop quantitative estimates of risk for a range of diseases by combining environmental exposures, genetic factors, and gene-environment interactions; identification of causes of individual variation in efficacy and safety of commonly used therapeutics; discovery of biomarkers that identify people with increased or decreased risk of developing common diseases, as well as other medical advances.
- The Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program
National Institutes of Health
2. The Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program –
Building a Research Foundation for 21st Century Medicine
Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) Working Group Report to the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH, September 17, 2015