What is personalized medicine?

Learn more from Dr. Peter Hulick on behalf of NorthShore University about personalized medicine.

Personalized medicine is a medical model that proposes the customization of healthcare using molecular analysis—with medical decisions, practices and products being tailored to the individual patient.

Dr. Judith Salerno
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

The most exciting aspect of personalized medicine is its potential impact on preventive health, says Dr. Judy Salerno, executive officer of the Institute of Medicine. Learn more by watching the video.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Personalized medicine is based on the idea that individuals may respond to medications, tests and treatment differently. In this video, Dr. Oz discusses why he's so hopeful about personalized medicine.

This is really the ideal way to treat a person. As a physician, you would identify the main health concerns of the patient and tailor the investigation and treatment to that patient's needs. For example, if a person were at high risk to develop diabetes, then the physician could tailor treatment to include lifestyle changes and medicine to perhaps avoid the diabetes showing up. This is really important, because we know that in the diabetes case, for example, that a lot of the bad things that happen are still going to happen after the diagnosis is made no matter how good controlled you are. If you could institute care that could avoid the disease or at least minimize it you could avoid those bad outcomes.

After researchers sequenced the human genome, they had a "map" of the human genes in DNA. This new genetic knowledge opens up the possibility of developing "targeted" therapies for people with specific gene sequences, and it can help physicians choose from among existing medicines the treatments that best meet individual genetic, lifestyle and environmental differences.

In addition, researchers are developing genetic tests that can tell us if we are susceptible to certain types of cancer, atherosclerosis, stroke, osteoporosis, vision and hearing loss, or even cavities. The patient and physician can use this information to establish a program of health management, including monitoring, as well as lifestyle, nutrition or protective drug therapy.

Personalized medicine is an approach that integrates an individual’s unique genetic data, environmental influences and behaviors to target disease identification, prevention and treatment. The idea is that each individual has a unique risk for disease and potential response to therapy. If these risks and responses can be identified at the individual level, then the most effective treatments or lifestyle modifications can be employed early in the course of disease, improving survival, quality of life and cost.

This method streamlines care so that patients can receive the treatment with the most benefit and least harm up front, instead of going through several weeks of ineffective medication trials.

Continue Learning about Managing Your Health Care

It’s Never Too Late To Take Control of Your Health
It’s Never Too Late To Take Control of Your Health
If you’ve ever given up on a New Year’s resolution, said ‘yes’ to junk food (again and again) or whispered to yourself...
Read More
How can I know if I'm getting the medical treatment that is right for me?
Scripps HealthScripps Health
Be actively engaged in all treatment decisions. If the doctor offers only one or two treatment optio...
More Answers
Know Before You Go: Nutritionist
Know Before You Go: NutritionistKnow Before You Go: NutritionistKnow Before You Go: NutritionistKnow Before You Go: Nutritionist
A food diary can help you get the most from your visit with a dietitian or nutritionist. Check out these smart ways to log what you eat.
Start Slideshow
Dr. Peter Hulick - What Is Personalized Medicine?
Dr. Peter Hulick - What Is Personalized Medicine?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.