Personalized Medicine – Academic Dream or Nearly Reality?

Car analogy to illustrate personalized medicineIs personalized medicine just the stuff of academic dreams? In fact, we are closer to providing not only personalized but also predictive, preventive and participatory i.e. “P4” medicine than we realize.

While the first three “Ps” in P4 medicine are more or less within the realms of researchers and health professionals, the last “P”, “participatory”, cannot be achieved using the top-down approach that is necessary for scientists. Instead, it requires input from all of us. The participatory element is so important that many of the predictive, preventive and personalized elements cannot be achieved without it, and the four parts are in essence intertwined.

Perhaps no one exemplifies the participatory element of P4 medicine better than Larry Smarr. In addition to his day job (as founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology), Larry has documented various parameters of his body with great detail. These parameters include typical measures such as weight, nutritional intake, and exercise, as well as more demanding blood and stool tests. Not only has Larry reduced his weight and now looks even younger than he did ten years ago, but Larry has also identified underlying medical problems that would have been easily overlooked by our traditional approach to medicine.

Interested to also be in charge of your own health and take a proactive approach to your healthcare? Read Larry’s full research on quantifying your body.

Learn more with the Biotechnology Journal special issue “Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine.

Image credits: ©KlaraViskova –, © Mechanik –

Full citation: Smarr, L. (2012), Quantifying your body: A how-to guide from a systems biology perspective. Biotechnology Journal, 7: 980–991. doi: 10.1002/biot.201100495

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