Precision Medicine Initiative (in Blank Verse)

I’m deeply excited about the Precision Medicine Initiative. With Cohort Program grant deadlines approaching in a matter of hours, I thought it might be time for a brief distraction with this blank verse reflection on the funding opportunity announcements:

Precision Medicine Initiative:
a blank verse summary and overview.

Recruit a million volunteers across
the country, spanning age, geography,
ethnicity and race, the ill and well,
a cohort of participants engaged
as partners for a long-term effort to
transform our understanding of the links
that bind genetics, our environment,
disease and health: a cohort big enough
for wide association studies of
diverse and non-prespecified effects.

We’ll weave a network joining scientists
from academia and industry,
and someone’s loft or basement or garage
to generate hypotheses, compare
results and methodology, and share
interpretations with participants.

We’ll gather physical exam reports
from EHRs and clinics, collate SNPs
and genomes, track activity from phones
and wearables, and questionnaires to learn
as much as each participant will share.

And how to organize a study with
unprecedented capabilities?
The cast of characters includes at least

* Enrollment Centers (seven) to recruit
one hundred thousand people each, and build
a pipeline for transmitting data to…

* Coordinating Center (one) composed
of interlocking Cores for Data (with
facilities to scale analysis),
Research Support (including phenotype
selection algorithms, software tools,
and science help desk), plus a centralized
Administrative Core to oversee
the project and collaborations with…

* Participant Technologies, to build
a suite of mobile applications that
engage participants through questionnaires,
acquire sensor data (GPS
and wearables) and share research results.

* A central Biobank for specimens
collected from the cohort, offering
facilities to handle, process, store,
prepare, and ship to labs upon request.

A cohort of one million volunteers
will chart a course across the next five years.
Jump in and grab the helm — but science steers:
discoveries ho! Let’s sail to new frontiers.