Medical treatments targeting the DNA in tumor cells are celebrated, but insurers often won’t cover the skyrocketing cost

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Chair of research program’s institutional review board details big challenges ahead. “This is the largest government study ever on its own people.” Nancy Kass, Sc.D., a professor of bioethics and public health at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics was talking about the Precision Medicine Initiative, now called the All of Us Research Program

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Nathaniel Comfort: Science has a history of inflated promises when it comes to disease treatment.

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President Obama has promised to support a bold future for medicine where diagnostic testing and treatments aren’t just what’s best for most people – they’re what’s best for you. This “precision medicine” takes individual variations in our genes and environments into account. Getting there will require genetic and health data from as many people as possible to uncover relationships

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The NIH has awarded the Berman Institute a ‘Center of Excellence’ grant for research on the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of applying genomics to infectious disease.

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Berman Institute faculty members are at the table to plan the largest government research undertaking in US history

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The fundamental ethical responsibilities of the cohort IRB remain the same as for any other IRB, Nancy Kass said, but there are particular issues that require sensitivity. Kass is a bioethicist and deputy director for public health in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. She also has been tapped by the National Institutes of Health to lead the central IRB for the Precision Medicine Cohort Program

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Strong genomics record bodes well but a shortage of doctors could pose a hurdle

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