The Personalized Medicine Initiative (PMI) has the mission of implementing personalized medicine practices into the healthcare system in BC and beyond, while also taking advantage of preventive healthcare and commercialization opportunities. The PMI is a not-for-profit umbrella organization of personalized medicine stakeholders and resources in BC that is currently based in the Life Sciences Institute at UBC. The PMI builds on leading life science resources, advanced technologies for big data acquisition and analysis and extensive clinical expertise. The advent of personalized medicine has the promise to improve human health by enabling more effective preventive medicine and improved matching of therapy to the individual and their disease. Further, advances in personalized medicine will lead to major new industries of considerable economic importance. The PMI intends that BC and Canada become leaders in the field of personalized, molecularly-based medicine to achieve improved health for Canadians and to enable Canadians to realize attendant economic benefits.

Preventing, diagnosing and treating disease are soon to change forever

The PMI program is well integrated into basic science, translational science and clinical efforts in BC, having evolved from extensive consultations with leaders in research, technology, clinical testing, and population health delivery. The PMI has four major objectives outlined in the “Roadmap for Bringing Personalized Medicine to British Columbians”:

  1. Make a whole system commitment, including a political commitment, to the introduction of personalized medicine in BC and Canada.
  2. Establish a coalition of stakeholders to drive the systemic change required in policy, privacy protection, health care data handling and funding priorities.
  3. Take advantage of near-term opportunities and build on established strengths in the practice of personalized medicine in BC and Canada.
  4. Construct a clinical database that includes molecular-level data clouds for 25,000 Canadians to improve preventive health and to better match disease to treatment.

The PMI has made significant progress since inception in 2011 and has ten implementation projects underway, five projects aimed at establishing necessary infrastructure and four outreach projects to educate the public and healthcare professionals as to the benefits of personalized medicine. The PMI is also actively pursuing a major precision health initiative – Molecular You Corporation (MYCO). MYCO is conducting longitudinal studies that characterize participants at the molecular level over large populations in states of health or disease. Extensive “Omic” profiles (genomic, proteomic, metabolomic, microbiomic) of participants can provide precise diagnostics of disease and indicate the most appropriate therapy.  Data is analyzed using integrated computational biology approaches and participants receive regular consultations with a health care professional to determine actions to maintain health. The large database being generated by MYCO will be a valuable source of information to develop biomarkers indicating health status and early transitions to disease and potentially new therapeutic targets. MYCO fits under PHIX’s mandate by focusing on individualized evidence for early stage disease detection and prevention.

Implementing the medicine of the future

British Columbia is well positioned to be a global leader in personalized, molecularly-based medicine. The implementation of personalized medicine requires a system-wide, collective commitment of resources and efforts. PHIX will be a focal point for collaboration amongst technological and clinical communities, industry, policy makers, and patient groups. Expertise and efforts will be cultivated to drive and implement personalized medicine into the frontlines of health care, to ensure the realization of economic benefits and to lead the necessary system change in health care delivery and policy.

Learn more about the Personalized Medicine Initiatives at personalizedmedicineinitiative.ca.