Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Congressman Cohen Lauds President’s New Precision Medicine Initiative

January 30, 2015
Press Release

[MEMPHIS, TN] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, today applauded President Obama’s launch of the Precision Medicine Initiative, a bold new research effort aimed at revolutionizing how America treats disease and improves health. Through a $215 million investment in the President’s 2016 Budget, the Precision Medicine Initiative will pioneer a new, patient-focused research model that promotes individually-tailored treatments instead of the current norm of “one-size-fits-all” treatments that can be successful for some patients but not for others.

“I am pleased that the President’s innovative Precision Medicine Initiative will invest $200 million in the National Institutes of Health, which is another department of defense that protects us from deadly diseases and illnesses,” said Congressman Cohen. “The likelihood of any one of us dying from a terrorist attack or weapon fired by a rogue nation is very slim, but the odds of suffering from disease are much more likely. While we more than adequately fund the Department of Defense, we have significantly cut funding for the NIH and for biomedical research, preventing critically important research for cures and treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, stroke, cancer, and Parkinson’s. The President’s new plan will help modernize the NIH, restore some of sequestration’s cuts, and propel the next generation of effective individualized treatments. I urge my fellow Members of Congress to join me in helping him launch the Precision Medicine Initiative.”

Advances in precision medicine have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics of individuals, such as a person’s genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual’s tumor.  This is leading to a transformation in the way we can treat diseases such as cancer. Patients with breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, as well as melanomas and leukemias, for instance, routinely undergo molecular testing as part of patient care, enabling physicians to select treatments that improve chances of survival and reduce exposure to adverse effects. The potential for precision medicine to improve care and speed the development of new treatments has only just begun to be tapped. Translating initial successes to a larger scale will require a coordinated and sustained national effort. 

Through collaborative public and private efforts, the Precision Medicine Initiative will leverage advances in genomics, emerging methods for managing and analyzing large data sets while protecting privacy, and health information technology to accelerate biomedical discoveries. The Initiative will also engage a million or more Americans to volunteer to contribute their health data to improve health outcomes, fuel the development of new treatments, and catalyze a new era of data-based and more precise medical treatment. Complementing robust investments to broadly support research, development, and innovation, the President’s 2016 Budget will provide a $215 million investment for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to support this effort, including:

  • $130 million to NIH for development of a voluntary national research cohort of a million or more volunteers to propel our understanding of health and disease and set the foundation for a new way of doing research through engaged participants and open, responsible data sharing.
  • $70 million to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of NIH, to scale up efforts to identify genomic drivers in cancer and apply that knowledge in the development of more effective approaches to cancer treatment.
  • $10 million to FDA to acquire additional expertise and advance the development of high quality, curated databases to support the regulatory structure needed to advance innovation in precision medicine and protect public health.
  • $5 million to ONC to support the development of interoperability standards and requirements that address privacy and enable secure exchange of data across systems.

Congressman Cohen is a leading voice in the U.S. House of Representatives for supporting our nation’s research institutions and has long fought to reverse the devastating effects sequestration has had on biomedical research in America, especially on research funded and conducted by the NIH. In the 113th Congress, the Congressman led a coalition of nearly 50 U.S. Representatives in urging the reversal of a decade-long slide in support for the NIH and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that has left our nation less prepared to stop the spread of viral diseases and without cures or vaccines for some of the most deadly illnesses. The Congressman also introduced the Research First Act to increase NIH funding for research by more than $1.5 billion, after that funding had been cut by sequestration.