[Photo: Dean Donna K. Arnett]
Dean Arnett and co-author Dr. Steven A. Claas of the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyze the appropriate usage of genetic tests in the public health setting. Following on President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI), Arnett and Claas review how the PMI impacts the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Taking into account the tension between the focus on the individual in precision medicine and the population-level focus of public health, the authors “contend that PM will add to — not replace — traditional public health strategies.”
In contrast to traditional public health, Arnett and Claas propose the advent of “precision public health,” characterized by discovering, validating, and optimizing care strategies for well-characterized population strata.
In the case of diabetes, precision public health has the potential to 1) discover and validate new markers of health and disease, 2) monitor population health, and 3) prevent disease and maintain health. They conclude that “[w]hile the PMI evidence base is growing, we must challenge ourselves to identify and translate into action what we already know about the determinants and interventions to halt the dramatic rise of diabetes around the world.”