In DepthBiomedical Research

NIH plots million-person megastudy

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Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 817
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6224.817

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As part of his proposed precision medicine initiative, President Barack Obama has called for enlisting at least 1 million American volunteers in a long-term study of genes, environment, and health. The idea is to mine all kinds of information, from participants' DNA and medical records to their physical activity tracked by Fitbits, to accelerate the development of treatments tailored to individual patients. It may sound straightforward, but not so, concluded nearly 90 scientists and company, industry, and patient representatives who met at the National Institutes of Health last week to begin planning this massive U.S. cohort study. Still, by the end of the 2-day meeting, most of the participants seemed enthusiastically on board, if somewhat daunted by the challenges of designing a project that could cost a billion dollars or more and last a decade or longer.