Why Precision Health

Enabling the collaborative research in Precision Health that is instrumental in the transition to preventative medicine

When it comes to the instruction book of lives, the 3 billion base pairs, we human beings share 99.9% of these genetic codes. It is the tiny 0.1% genetic difference that plays a significant role and makes us as individuals, from possessing unique eye colours to being predisposed to certain diseases.

The key determinants of health range widely from biology factors to individual behaviour, health services, social environment and policy making. Amongst all, it is estimated that about one third of health outcomes are determined by genetics, and one-fifth by social and environmental situation. Adapting a one-for-all treatment approach may result in unintended side effects for some people.

Precision health takes individual variations into account for prevention or treatment strategies, considering personal risk analysis, which accounts for genetics, lifestyle, environmental and social circumstances, followed by longitudinal monitoring of relevant biological parameters. By deploying a seamless precision health ecosystem, one could enable accurate prediction, fast diagnosis, and optimised treatment on an individualised basis. The ideal result would be a lower burden of symptoms for the individual and reduced cost to the healthcare system, but delivery of this vision requires a paradigm shift in our thinking about our own health and that of society as a whole.

It is vital that precision health approaches will be most useful if developed from outset in a population health context.

Prof Carol Brayne CBE (Director of Cambridge Public Health)

Although one of the prominent foci of precision health is technology and physical sciences development, it will fail to meet its promise if an execution gap stands and bars it from favouring everyone because of cost or operational reasons. Embracing precision health development with disciplines of humanities and social sciences on ethical, social, and legal issues is just as crucial.