Center for Precision Medicine

Center for Precision Medicine

Researcher in lab

Leading the Future of Medicine

The Penn Center for Precision Medicine aims to forge strong interconnections between the people who are making impactful scientific discoveries every day and the clinicians and clinical teams delivering outstanding care. We also serve as a source of information for both programs and centers within the health system and for organizations outside that wish to explore partnerships with us.

What is Precision Medicine?

Precision medicine is an emerging form of disease diagnosis and prevention that uses genetic and other unique personalized information to deliver the right treatment, to the right person, at the right time. As importantly, the use of Precision Medicine may spare some individuals the costs and side effects of targeted therapies from which they would not benefit, based on their individualized makeup.

The practice of precision medicine is about providing the right treatment (or prevention) to each individual at the right time.

Although physicians have always taken a personalized approach to medicine, the arrival of more sophisticated diagnostics and therapies allows us to more precisely classify disease states on a mechanistic basis. By knowing the nature of the disease with molecular-level accuracy, we can treat their root causes.

For example, recent advances in genomic medicine revealed that adenocarcinoma of the lung, once regarded as a single entity based on its appearance under the microscope, is actually a group of distinct disorders, each with characteristic molecular “drivers.” This knowledge allows oncologists to use more tailored therapies to treat people.

In addition to cancer, we’re using precision medicine approaches to diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders, ranging from preterm birth to cardiovascular disease. 

How does Precision Medicine Change What We Know?

Precision Medicine has long been a cornerstone of medical diagnosis and treatment, particularly at Penn. For example, we now take for granted that bacterial infections are diagnosed based on identification of the causative organism; treatment is then based on an assessment of antibiotic sensitivities. This is Precision Medicine.

What is new, however, is the ability of our diagnostic tools to rapidly expand the scope of detailed, molecular information that can be used to better predict responsiveness to treatment and health outcomes. Advances in gene sequencing and other diagnostic methods for assessing a person's unique makeup are resulting in new classifications of disease, which may require different approaches to treatment.

In fact, Precision Medicine has matured to the point that it is poised to impact clinical care, and in many instances, reduce costs while improving outcomes.

Advancing the Practice of Medicine

It is clear that Precision Medicine is poised to be among the most important developments in modern medicine and one that we, as the first school of medicine in the United States, are ideally poised to shape for our nation and our world.

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