A Look at Precision Medicine
and the Idea of Precision Wellness
BIO5 Institute and Collaboration
For the first few years following my college graduation, I have had the privilege of working for a notable bioscience research institute on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, AZ.
The BIO5 Institute is collaborative (and that is what makes it special). There’s about 200+ researchers from fields ranging from five over-arching categories. General science, engineering, medicine, pharmacy, and agriculture. They all work in large lab areas where they are able to walk a few feet and talk with researchers who are working on completely different projects, often in a completely different field.
But that’s the magic. It’s something that isn’t often done. Usually researchers stay in their labs at their various respective corners of campus.
Not at the BIO5 Institute. It’s an open, colorful facility for the sole purpose of bringing researchers together. And, when you put them together, naturally information is shared. Ideas sprout. Projects develop. Research evolves.
I’ve given tours of the facility to scholars from all over the world and the one thing that they are amazed about is always the level of collaboration. The free flow of information. (The caliber of the research, technology, and the scientists is usually complimented as well.)
Working in this environment was inspiring to say the least. Sometimes I would walk into the office bathroom and find a toothbrush— evidence that a dedicated researcher had indeed been there all night. That level of passion is, if not infectious, certainly interesting.
There’s many members that I could go into a story about. Each one has an incredible cause and reason for why they are embarking on their particular endeavors in research.
However, there is one realm that I’ve found to be particularly fascinating:
I was able to personally meet our member Dr. Yves A. Lussier * when I was put on an assignment with our photographer to take head shots. Lussier was exceptionally warm and as we shot photos in his office, he gave us a glimpse into one of his current projects. He pointed to various highlighted areas on his computer depicting brightly colored DNA strands, and with his Canadian French accent, gently tried to explain to us the intricate and complex concept of precision medicine.
It was a glimpse, but that was all I needed. Since the visit, I have paid close attention to all research pertaining to the words, “precision medicine”.
medical care designed to optimize efficiency or therapeutic benefit for particular groups of patients, especially by using genetic or molecular profiling.
Precision medicine is (relatively) new in the realm of health and science.
Rather than working off of a generalized health plan pertaining to the particular diagnoses for the patient—precision medicine is a very personalized health plan or prescription given to an individual or small specialized group of patients. By very personalized, I am not simply talking a detailed run through on the clipboard. I’m talking about genetics.
As part of the Precision Medicine Initiative announced by the President in 2015, there has been an influx of funding to projects classified under this umbrella. You can read more about the initiative here.
Or here: allofus-inforgraphic-20161117
The University of Arizona has benefitted from that funding. In my opinion, it’s a great thing and it’s important. To truly harness the power behind understanding genetics, genomes, etc. we must not only have the world-class researchers and physicians, but also the technology, data, access to large-scale data networks, AND collaboration with other researchers throughout the globe. (All of which takes big $$).
Through my own research, time, and understanding— precision medicine has become something that I truly support. With the amount of knowledge, technology, and brilliant minds that we have behind these initiatives, I can foresee an entirely different future of healthcare.
Someday a diagnosis of diabetes, cancer, or even Alzheimer’s may no longer be a life-altering or life-threatening news.
And that is pretty damn cool.
Precision and Personalized Wellness
As a yoga teacher, and someone who navigates the public health realm, I’ve been playing with the idea of precision wellness.
I am currently a huge proponent of holistic health and have been studying, experimenting, and practicing alternative, preventative, and curative natural therapies for years.
(If you’re interested in learning more about holistic wellness, I highly recommend the work of Dr. Andrew Weil , who has been dubbed the “father of integrative medicine” of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. He was my introduction to this realm, however there many, many wonderful pioneers working in integrative medicine.)
The idea of precision wellness is comparable to that of precision medicine. Every single individual can create a lifestyle that is conducive to their own precision wellness plan. This plan can be created by looking at genes, of course, understanding family history of disease—both physical and mental— and by looking at environmental factors affecting the individual.
(I have been experimenting with my own personalized precision wellness plan, which I will detail in a later blog.
I will be exploring precision wellness deeper in 2017, as I can see that the traditional techniques of the east will blend beautifully with the new technology of the west. If you or someone you know is a geneticist, or studying any discipline that could be applied, please reach out! (Again, it’s all about collaboration.))
In time, I can envision a society where we thrive in great health because each person is fully aware of their own intricately unique physical and mental attributes — strengths and limitations.
I can envision a society where we thrive in great health because each person is fully aware of their own intricately unique physical and mental biological attributes.
With that self-awareness comes understanding. When we understand our own biology, (even if it isn’t to the genetic level) the ability to take our health and healthcare into our own hands becomes possible.
If you are interested in learning more about experimentation with my own personalized wellness plan, or if you would simply like more information on any of the topics discussed above—
please contact Tatiana.
*More Info on Dr. Lussier
Yves A. Lussier, MD, FACMI
(Associate Vice President for Health Sciences and Chief Knowledge Officer. Executive Director, Center for Biomedical Informatics and Biostatistics
University of Arizona Health Sciences)
If you’re interested in reading more about how precision medicine, genomics, and big data align and Dr. Lussier align click here.
“At the UA, he is leading efforts to fully develop novel programs in biomedical informatics, computational genomics and precision health. Dr. Lussier provides critical leadership in efforts to advance precision health approaches to health outcomes and healthcare delivery and in the development of big data analytical tools and resource services in support of the University’s clinical research and service missions.”