Obama pledges ‘new era of medicine’

President Obama on Friday made a major commitment to a new field of medical research that he said will “lay the foundation for a new generation of life-saving discoveries”

The $215 million initiative, which was first unveiled during the State of the Union last week, would use individuals’ personal health data to find new cures and treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes.

“Personalized medicine gives us one of the great opportunities for new medical breakthroughs that we have ever seen,” Obama told a group of doctors, scientists and patients gathered at the White House.

“What if figuring out the right dose of medicine was just as simple as taking our temperature?” he said.


Obama announced the research effort — dubbed the Precision Medicine Initiative — just days before he will officially unveil his 2016 budget request.

The massive boost in the government’s R&D effort could help boost his legacy in the fields of science and medicine, which has suffered under the sequestration cuts during his tenure. Groups from the American Cancer Society to Research!America have already praised the president’s ideas.

The bulk of funding would help gather a group of a million volunteers to help scientists conduct long-term studies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive about $130 million to head the effort. The agency will receive another $70 million to boost research on the genetic drivers of cancer.

The idea already has bipartisan support, Obama said.

At a time of high tension between the White House and Congress, Obama highlighted his own experiences as a senator working with Republican congressmen such as Richard Burr (N.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) on the issue.

The effort would compliment a bipartisan, bicameral effort to bolster American research already in the works. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Col.), who have both led work on Congress’s “21st Century Cures” initiative, attended the president’s speech.

Alexander, who met with Obama to discuss the initiative, said in a statement Friday that he looked forward to “working with him on this critically important issue.”

“We have a real opportunity to work together and get a result so that cutting-edge medicine begins reaching patients more quickly, while still preserving this nation’s gold standard for safety and quality,” Alexander wrote in a statement.