Can precision medicine be applied to disease prevention? That was the question at the center of the 163rd Cutter Lecture on Preventive Medicine, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on May 6, 2016. Speaking to a packed auditorium in Kresge G-1, Duncan C. Thomas, professor and director of the Biostatistics Division at the University of Southern California, said that personalized prevention could work in the right circumstances.

In 2015, President Obama launched his Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), earmarking $215 million to help researchers, providers, and patients work together to develop individualized care. So far, much of the focus of the PMI has been on treatment—finding ways to tailor treatment to a person’s unique biological and genetic needs. Thomas said it’s worth investigating whether the same principles can be applied to prevention.

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