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Obama's $215 Million DNA Sequencing Project Is A Great Idea?

Bully_Pulpit Black MageMembers Posts: 5,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited February 2015 in The Social Lounge
This morning, President Obama is going to announce the new “Precision Medicine Initiative” that he teased in his State of the Union address on January 20 to a roomful of luminaries including the research heads of several major drug makers. It’s a gimmicky grab for budget money that’s scant on details – barely a sketch of an idea.

It’s also a smart move and should be worth every penny.

Obama is requesting $215 million in new investment for the new initiative. The first $130 million of that will go to the National Institutes of Health fund the creation of a national research program tracking the data of 1 million volunteer donors, including, for many, their DNA sequences. Another $70 million will go to the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the NIH, to identify the genetic drivers of cancer. The next $10 million will go to the Food and Drug Administration to develop new regulatory structures to deal with approving more personalized drugs, and the final $5 million goes to the office of the National Coordinator to help get all the relevant information technology systems to cooperate. The plan was described to reporters on a call yesterday afternoon.

Let’s be honest: these initiatives are partly there to make the president look presidential (hoping voters remember Kennedy sending men to the moon and not Nixon’s War on Cancer) and partly as a way to try and fight back the fact that the budget of the NIH has been getting tighter as research costs rise faster than inflation. There are often impressive claims made, as in 2013, when, announcing his $100 million BRAIN Initiative, Obama argued that for every dollar that had been spent to map the human genome, $140 had been delivered to the economy. (Maybe, but that number comes from a report commissioned by Life Technologies , now part of Thermo Fisher, a descendent of the company that made the DNA sequencers used in the project – and during that same period major drug companies, one of the main beneficiaries of the project, cut hundreds of thousands of jobs.)

But whether or not State-of-the-Union science is a good idea generally, this is a good idea today, particularly because of the revolution that the human genome project really did kick off. As a result of the human genome project and private sector efforts by Illumina ILMN -2.41%, the dominant maker of DNA sequencers, the cost of analyzing a human genome has dropped from $400 million to $1,000. The ability to track other kinds of data and to analyze those data with computers has dropped precipitously, though not quite as fast.

That has led to a lot of other efforts to build databases of patient data. That includes the United Kingdom’s effort to amass 100,000 genomes, and also private efforts including those of the billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong’s NantHealth, Craig Venter’s startup Human Longevity, and the biotechnology company Regeneron. It’s good for Celgene CELG -1.42% or Pfizer to sequence lots of genomes, but its better if that data is accessible to researchers everywhere.

The effort Obama is announcing, masterminded by NIH chief Francis Collins, who dueled with Venter’s private company during the last human genome race, seems to try to do this on the cheap, stitching together many ongoing projects into a government consortium. But it’s still the right idea. Having the government, as well as industry, collect this data will make all of it – from genomics to mobile health – more open and free. And that can only mean better science for everyone.

Nah 🤬 that 🤬 . I dont agree with this but I wanted to post an article from a reputable source of course forbes will spin this in a positive light. Will you be amongst the volunteers??


  • willywanker
    willywanker what?Members Posts: 787 ✭✭✭✭
    they are trying to turn us into computers slowly, 🤬 all people with evil agendas!
  • And_So_It_Burns
    And_So_It_Burns Members Posts: 921 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Why do you think this is a bad idea again?
  • Bully_Pulpit
    Bully_Pulpit Black Mage Members Posts: 5,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well this is just my opinion but it seems like they are doing a test run using your DNA to 🤬 particular drugs to you, yeah it sounds pretty good on the surface but it has more potential to be a negative factor than a positive one.
    Number one do you trust the government? If you don't then why give them access to your genetic code. They could clone you, they could plant evidence of your dna somewhere. They could tailor specific treatments to 🤬 you. I know, I know I sound negative as 🤬 but think about this, when was the last time the government proved itself to be trustworthy or for the people? I'll wait,,,No hold up, when was the last time the government of this country proved itself to be competent?

    Number two where is Obama expecting all these spending plans to get funding from??? I know, us 🤬 . Now this is a democracy right? Obama is going on quite a tear with these new proposals. Every other day seeing a couple hundred million here and there for this that and the other. Who you think gonna pay for this? I actually think it would save us more money if they stopped kissing monsanto's ass(and all these other corporations that poison our water and food supplies) and start bring the diseases and obesity of this country down.
  • kingblaze84
    kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopMembers Posts: 14,288 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This could be good in that red tape is cut down and it will be easier for doctors to know a patient and better treat them. The last time research like this was done it did save many science companies money and time.

    On the other hand, I do think all these hundreds of millions can be better spent on the American people, like affordable housing programs. Homelessness is increasing all over the nation and so is poverty, so I'm not really thrilled about us spending money on this when there are better priorities in this country. Most kids in public school today live in homes that either have poverty or are very close to it, our priorities are all 🤬 up
  • alissowack
    alissowack Members Posts: 1,930 ✭✭✭
    It would be alright if we really intend to use the project for good. But, before it even get to that, we have to wonder where the money is going to come from. We definitely don't need to be printing up money for the cost. The only people capable of paying for it are these wealthy billionaires...now back to intentions.

    If these billionaires were to decide it's worth the money to spend on the project, they are going have a whole lot to say on how it will be used if there are any known progress. The little people won't have a say in the matter. The project, if successful, could only be used to benefit a few and harm many. It's just something eerie about knowing someone can genetically engineer a drug tailored for my destruction. It could definitely be a financial burden if the cures for diseases make it difficult to make a living.

    Not that genetics never sparked any controversy, but doomsday people will definitely be all over this seeing as the beginning stages of the mark of the beast; that they will preach against it. Though I share this concern somewhat, I don't think any progress should be overlooked if the project can actually cure life threatening diseases.