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Say goodbye to a one-size-fits-all approach to health care. Precision medicine is here. Introducing Johns Hopkins inHealth.
Illustration credit: Daniel Hertzberg
Learn more about the Johns Hopkins Medicine approach to personalized medicine in this special report.
In the Genes
Looking to the data to sort indolent prostate cancers from aggressive ones, analyzing genetic testing results to see whose tumor might benefit from targeted therapies, why immunotherapy is a model for how precision medicine can work.
Antony Rosen is generally a pretty low-key guy, but when he talks about being part of “the most exciting era of medicine,” his eyes light up and his words come quickly.
First, the vice dean for research ticks off dramatic advances that have combined to make possible the new world of precision medicine: significant improvements in the speed and power of computing and “big data” analysis. A “revolution” in measurement, making it possible now to measure thousands of analytes from the tiniest amount of human material. Seamless connectivity—connecting human to human, human to device, and device to device.
How is this 21st-century toolbox being harnessed, in Rosen’s words, to make this “the most extraordinary era in which to be a patient?”
“We’re using ever-more precise biomedical tests and measurement technologies to sort patients into progressively smaller subgroups for more precise treatment. This requires bringing data from multiple sources together in one place, and building and applying new algorithms, which use measurements from many domains (including patients’ biology, behavior and genetics) to improve recognition of disease subgroups,” he explains.
At Johns Hopkins, where William Osler famously set the course of modern medicine more than a century ago by admonishing his colleagues to “care more for the individual patient than for the special features of his disease,” the pursuit of individualized medicine is nothing new. The groundwork for today’s revolution has been laid for decades, perhaps most notably in the field of genetics by such giants as Victor McKusick ’46, Bert Vogelstein, Ken Kinzler, Drew Pardoll and others.
Most recently, precision medicine efforts underway across the vast Johns Hopkins enterprise have come together under the mantle of Johns Hopkins inHealth. Launched as a signature initiative by university president Ronald J. Daniels and now co-directed by Rosen, biostatistician Scott Zeger, oncologist Ken Pienta and Mary Cooke, vice president of the US Family Health Plan, inHealth unites researchers and clinicians from the university, the health system and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory to share resources, ideas and vision—all in an effort to speed the translation of knowledge to clinical practice. Recently, under the leadership of Robert Kasdin and Landon King, Johns Hopkins has begun rolling out Precision Medicine Centers of Excellence to highlight areas where the newest technologies and measurement tools can be applied to greatly improve patient care. Such advances are buoyed in no small part by a new partnership between the team of Stephanie Reel, university chief information officer, and APL.
Already, patients with diseases ranging from heart disease to prostate cancer to multiple sclerosis are benefiting from precision medicine advances here. In the pages that follow, you’ll read about these stories and more—and about the promise of what’s to come.
Imaging and Infrastructure
A virtual model of the heart promises to personalize cardiac treatment and improve care, eliminating the learning curve, moving beyond silos.