Personalized medicine: motivation, challenges, and progress

Personalized medicine, or the belief that patients have many unique characteristics that should impact the way they are treated, will dramatically change the way clinical care is provided in the future.
Personalized medicine: motivation, challenges, and progress

Volume 109, Issue 6, Pages 952–963


Laura H. Goetz, M.D., Nicholas J. Schork, Ph.D.


There is a great deal of hype surrounding the concept of personalized medicine. Personalized medicine is rooted in the belief that since individuals possess nuanced and unique characteristics at the molecular, physiological, environmental exposure, and behavioral levels, they may need to have interventions provided to them for diseases they possess that are tailored to these nuanced and unique characteristics. This belief has been verified to some degree through the application of emerging technologies such as DNA sequencing, proteomics, imaging protocols, and wireless health monitoring devices, which have revealed great inter-individual variation in disease processes. In this review, we consider the motivation for personalized medicine, its historical precedents, the emerging technologies that are enabling it, some recent experiences including successes and setbacks, ways of vetting and deploying personalized medicines, and future directions, including potential ways of treating individuals with fertility and sterility issues. We also consider current limitations of personalized medicine. We ultimately argue that since aspects of personalized medicine are rooted in biological realities, personalized medicine practices in certain contexts are likely to be inevitable, especially as relevant assays and deployment strategies become more efficient and cost-effective.

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