Leroy Hood’s Personalized Medicine Vision Enters Proving Ground at Ohio State

5/18/10Follow @xconomy

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it didn’t authorize wide-ranging genetic studies that researchers conducted on their blood samples.

That story was certainly on Hood’s mind, but he and Lee said they didn’t think it would create any additional barriers to their ambitious undertaking. The important thing is that consent forms fully inform patients before they enroll, and that researchers learn that they need to do more to educate both physicians and patients about what the personalized medicine work means, Hood says. Researchers should learn from “bumps in the road,” like the one at Arizona State, Lee says.

While privacy concerns could slam the brakes on a serious initiative, undermining that critical fourth “P” of participatory, Lee says he’s confident this movement toward P4 medicine will catch. Although he’s not ready to name names, Lee says that a community-based health system in the Northwest, not affiliated with a major university, is close to signing on as the second major participant in the movement toward P4 medicine after Ohio State.

Lee, as a physician who treated patients not many years ago, seems to bring some fresh thinking to the challenge of engaging average citizens in his cause. He didn’t shy away with a lot of vague platitudes when I asked him how he’s going to get people to buy into this idea.

“We want to make care engaging and enjoyable,” Lee says. “I’m a physician, and I have tried to completely avoid the healthcare system for a great part of my life. I know what’s going to happen as a patient. I know my cholesterol is probably off, and I’m going to start on Lipitor, and they’re probably going to yell at me for this and that. I’ll try to be compliant, but I’ll feel bad about myself.”

“Right now the healthcare system is filled with dread and fear and uncertainty and doubt. We feel you can turn that around, and get engagement, if you can predict and prevent disease and start to create novel metrics and present them to the consumer in fun ways. That is really when we become sticky,” Lee says.P4 logo

The barriers are still real, and Lee didn’t try to downplay them. He just thinks they will go away, and personalized medicine will go mainstream over the next five years.

“By then we’ll have attracted a critical mass of industry, academic partners, and consultants on societal issues,” Lee says. “We’ll make headway on societal, ethical, sociologic components. There will be multiple demonstration projects in U.S. and around the world. We’ll have evangelized and created a vision of P4 medicine that consumers will be demanding. Conservatively, you could look at this from a linear perspective, because it’s difficult to think exponentially. But my deep, dark belief is that this will follow an exponential growth curve.”

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