The Institute for Precision Medicine is here to help you make sense of new words, ideas, and opportunities in genetics and related sciences that are changing the way health care is provided. You already know some traditional tests that help individuals monitor their own health: a man who checks his blood sugar levels or a woman completing a home pregnancy test is using substances in their blood or urine to answer a question. As scientists learn more about what questions can be answered in a drop of blood or a piece of body tissue, we can assist in translating this for you and explain how your physician can take advantage of what is found.

 

Your Genes and Precision Medicine

  • You inherit your genetic information as DNA from your parents. A gene is a segment of DNA and you receive one set of genes from each parent. The products of your genes interact with one another to help define what is uniquely you. Over time, your lifestyle, what you are exposed to in your environment, and your interactions with others modify your genes and how they are expressed. As with a building, the final structure does not always look exactly like what was proposed in the original blueprint.
  • As scientists understand better which gene modifications cause which disease, they can also identify very specific ways to prevent or treat the disease based on how the gene or genes involved are changed.
  • Because not all drugs are effective in all patients, clinical studies of precision medicine now seek to determine which drug will work best for which patient based on his or her genes and other proteins, leading to personalized care.

You Can Help Bring the Future Closer

We can only learn how to best use precision medicine if patients agree (consent) to participate in carefully conducted clinical studies. Every medication and every medical device you have ever used was first tested in clinical studies to be sure it was safe and effective. If you would like to help bring the future of precision medicine closer, please consider enrolling in the University of Pittsburgh Pitt+Me initiative, which lists clinical studies that you can join and also alerts you to new studies that match your health status and interests. You can learn more about the clinical research process on the Pitt+Me website. Patients outside of Pittsburgh can search ClinicalTrials.gov for a national listing of clinical studies and to learn more about the clinical research process.

You Can Help the Institute for Precision Medicine

  • In addition to participating in clinical research, you can help us help you by letting us know any questions you might have about precision medicine or the Institute and by attending our focus groups to discuss issues related to genetics and personalized medicine. Please feel free to use our web form to send us suggestions anonymously or include your contact information if you would like a response. You can also send email directly to ask a question, learn about participating in a focus group, or discuss how you can financially support the Institute. We want to be sure we are serving your needs, and we thank you for your input.