February 2017
In This Issue
Precision Medicine

Institute Happenings 

Upcoming Events 
  Recent Blogs 
Dear Friends,

In this issue, we will explore the rapidly expanding field of personalized or precision medicine. Providing individualized healthcare, based on a person’s genes, is no longer the stuff of science fiction! Join us, as we discuss the “ins and outs” of precision medicine and opportunities to participate in precision medicine-based research here at Northwestern University.   

Nicole C. Woitowich, PhD
Director of Science Outreach and Education 
Precision Medicine
     Precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, is an approach to treating and preventing disease based on a person’s genes, environment, and lifestyle [1]. While the terminology may be new, the idea of treating a patient based on their individual differences has been around for quite some time. Clinicians may tailor treatment based on an individual’s height and weight, sex, blood type, previous medical history, or family history. Yet now, thanks to breakthroughs in biotechnology which allow us to sequence DNA quickly and affordably, we can begin to develop customized therapies based on a patient’s genetic makeup.  In addition to biotechnology, mobile technology may be another key to improving precision medicine. Mobile health apps have the ability to track a wide range of health-based and lifestyle information such as diet, physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns, and blood pressure. Healthcare professionals may utilize this information to generate specific treatment plans or encourage healthy behaviors. 
  In 2015, President Obama announced the creation of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), a national program supported by the National Institutes of Health, designed to advance the field of precision medicine within the United States [2]. The aim of the PMI is to generate new knowledge which will ultimately lead to improved health and well-being, along with new treatments for disease. In order to achieve this goal, the PMI established a nationwide research study entitled, "AllofUS." The AllofUS study is a large participant-driven effort to collect health information from individuals across the United States. In 2017, the AllofUS study will begin to recruit individuals of diverse ethnic, social, racial, and geographical backgrounds, along with those of different age groups and health conditions, who are willing to report their health information and provide biospecimens for analysis. Through this wealth of data, we may begin to identify biomarkers, genes, lifestyles, and environmental conditions that affect health and disease.

  In order to process, analyze, and store the massive amounts of data that will be generated by the AllofUS study, the PMI is facilitating collaborations between many communities - scientific, medical, health, and societal — and public as well as private sectors. Likewise, great care will be taken to ensure that all data collected will be securely stored and protected [3]. 
Interested in learning more about precision medicine?

Join us on October 17th, 2017, for a Monthly Forum featuring Dr. Phillip Greenland, Principal Investigator of the NU-AllofUS Study! 
     Northwestern University is one of 4 local sites which will participate in the AllofUS study. Beth Belifuss, clinical project manager for the NU AllofUS site, explains the significance behind this massive undertaking:

"The All of Us Research Program is a highly interactive research model, with participants as partners in the development and implementation of the research and with significant representation in program governance and oversight. Through this dynamic community, researchers will be able to advance the information derived from this program into new knowledge, approaches, and treatments."

If you would like additional information about the NU-AllofUS study or are interested in participating, please contact Beth at b-beilfuss@northwestern.edu.


Author: Nicole C. Woitowich, PhD, Director of Science Outreach and Education, Women's Health Research Institute  
Institute Happenings
On January 25th, the WHRI hosted the Sex Inclusion in Biomedical Research Workshop and Symposium at Prentice Women's Hospital. The event celebrated the 1-year anniversary of the implementation of the NIH sex-inclusion policy requiring investigators to consider sex as a biological variable. Throughout the day, thoughtful discussion of sex-based research took place through an expert panel question and answer session, keynote addresses, invited talks, and a poster session. Attendees included investigators, clinicians, and trainees, as well as other members of the Northwestern community. 

Click here to see a short video from the event featuring WHRI Director, Dr. Teresa Woodruff! 
Upcoming Events 

February 21st: Women's Health Research Monthly Forum

"Expanding the Scope of Mindfulness: Examining the acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of a mindfulness based intervention for depressed women in an urban Federally Qualified Health Center" 

Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler
12:00PM - 1:00PM
Prentice Women's Hospital, 250 E. Superior Street, 3rd Floor Conference Room L South
This activity has been submitted to the Ohio Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. The Ohio Nurses Association (OBN-001-91) is accredited as an approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. 

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