Penn State Hershey's personalized medicine efforts get a jump-start

Aiming to make its mark on the future of medicine, Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine is set to launch a significant research study this month and will move into space of its own in January. The Institute for Personalized Medicine, launched in early 2012, is Penn State Hershey’s commitment to advancing health care through the use of modern technology and more effective tools.

Medicine has always been personalized – what is changing are the tools available to scientists to help providers better care for patients. In the past, doctors based treatments on research that studied broad groups of people, finding what is most likely to help a majority of patients. While this approach has been successful, it’s not always efficient since every person is different. A person’s genetics and biology are unique to her, so treatments that work best for one person may not work at all for another.

Personalized medicine is the use of individual characteristics to tailor treatments to the person. For example, one person may respond to a medicine differently than another because of their genetics. By knowing what that genetic difference is, doctors can look for the same in future patients and prescribe medication accordingly – helping get a better result.

One of the institute’s major initiatives is to create a bio-repository to collect specimens such as blood or saliva from patients treated at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and its ambulatory practices. From this bio-repository and other data sources, institute staff will use biologic and lifestyle information to correlate interactions between genes and environment then connect this information with outcome data contained in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Patients with scheduled appointments at select sites will have the opportunity to participate in this bio-repository research project in the next few weeks. All Medical Center and Medical Group patients are expected to have the opportunity to participate within two to three years. Learn more at http://www2.med.psu.edu/ipm/for-patients/how-can-i-participate.

And on Jan. 16, the institute will hold a dedication and open house of its new space on the second floor of the College of Medicine, giving employees and members of the community an opportunity to try their hand at the techniques institute staff will employ with samples donated by willing patients.

To learn more about personalized medicine at Penn State Hershey, read the full article in Penn State Medicine at http://goo.gl/zBb9h.

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Last Updated December 10, 2012