Precision treatment and precision prevention: Integrating “below and above the skin”

In 2015, President Obama unveiled “a new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease,” based on the premise that accounting for “individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles” will improve both disease prevention and treatment. Most of the history and current application of these concepts, however, has focused on treatment over prevention. If the scientific community is not vigilant, emphasis on successful treatments for small subsets of patients may overshadow prevention efforts to improve the health of all Americans. We contend that integrating 2 paradigms of research, both of which aim to understand “what works, for whom, and under what circumstances,” can lead to a sounder balance of treatment and prevention. Advances in precision can benefit both halves of this effort and ultimately have the potential to integrate them.

This paper appeared on the JAMA Pediatrics website on November 23, 2015.  Read the full paper here.