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Education

The Basics

What Is Personalized Medicine?

Personalized medicine, which is also called precision or individualized medicine, is an evolving field in which physicians use diagnostic tests to determine which medical treatments will work best for each patient. This information is important because, as the graphic shows, many drugs are ineffective on some patients. By combining the data from diagnostic tests with an individual’s medical history, circumstances and values, health care providers can develop targeted treatment and prevention plans. This has benefits for both patients and the health system.

Percentage of Patients for Whom a Drug is Ineffective, on Average


Source: Brian B. Spear, Margo Heath-Chiozzi, Jeffrey Huff, Clinical Trends in Molecular Medicine, Volume 7, Issue 5, 1 May 2001, pages 201 - 204.

Diagnostic Tests

The diagnostic tests used in personalized medicine help identify biomarkers (biological markers), which are characteristics about an individual patient’s biology. These markers are often genetic, and knowing what biomarkers an individual has allows doctors to better understand how a health condition affects that patient.

Genetics, their contribution to the basis of disease and molecular diagnostics are all important topics for understanding the basics of personalized medicine. You can use the links provided here to explore each of these topics and many others pertinent to this field in more depth.