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President Obama Announces National 'Precision Medicine Initiative'

Autism Speaks welcomes commitment to genome-guided individualized medicine, as exemplified by our MSSNG program
January 30, 2015



Today, President Obama announced his “Precision Medicine Initiative,” with a budget request of $215 million for research that will include genomic analysis of one million Americans. The goal, he said, is to transform modern medicine with methods that can tailor therapies to the underlying biology of each patient’s needs.

“The promise of precision medicine is to deliver the right treatment at the right time to the right people,” he said. “Advances in technology mean that these breakthroughs could be just the beginning.”

“Today’s announcement is a bold statement and a reflection of the significant development being made in this area of science,” says Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. “It coincides with the thoughtful conversations underway on Capitol Hill to foster medical innovation through regulatory reform and incentives. The President’s commitment is further encouragement to the work that Autism Speaks is doing through innovative research initiatives such as MSSNG and to the work of other leaders in the research and foundation community. We wholeheartedly welcome this commitment and look forward to working with the Administration to see that the promise of this field is fulfilled.”      

Adds Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring: “The President’s vision for precision medicine is perfectly aligned with the goals of our precedent-setting MSSNG program, which is already unlocking the mysteries of autism through the power and innovations of genomic discovery.”

In its first phase, the MSSNG program will sequence the complete genomes of 10,000 individuals affected by autism and provide researchers open-access to this data through a state-of-the-art database built and hosted in collaboration with Google. Earlier this week, Autism Speaks announced a major milestone toward these goals with the first official data release of 1,000 sequenced genomes.

The data release coincided with publication a landmark study based on MSSNG data. The report, featured in Nature Medicine, represents the largest-ever whole genome study of families affected by autism. Its surprising findings included the discovery that, even when two siblings both have autism, most carry different genetic predispositions for the disorder. “The findings emphasize the importance of whole genome sequencing as a tool to understand genetic risk and offer an early glimpse into a future of personalized treatment supported by the precision of genomic screening,” Dr. Ring says.

Read the White House Fact Sheet on President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative here.


Learn more about MSSNG here.


Researchers can request access to MSSNG genomic data here.