Personalized Medicine: New Promise of the Human Genome Project


Date Thursday August 11th 2005
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

The first 5 years of the 21st Century see the successful elucidation of the human genome sequence and the construction of a map of human genetic variation. The new information promises to revolutionized medical care.

The hope is that one can practice personalized medicine using the information about a person’s genetic makeup to tailor strategies for the detection, treatment, or prevention of disease. Although the DNA code is 99.9% identical between any two humans, the 0.1% difference makes us unique in health and disease, determines how well we respond to medications and cope with environmental changes. As we understand the genetic defects associated with various diseases, new targets are available for drug development. Indeed, advances in biotechnology have brought to the clinic targeted drugs such as Gleevec that are known to work better in people with particular genetic profiles.

While the era of personalized medicine is clearly underway, we face serious challenges in the ethical, legal, and social areas. Are we, as a society, ready for the use of genetic information in healthcare delivery? Will we misuse the power of genetic technology? In this presentation, the promise and pitfalls of the personalized medicine will be explored.


Pui-Yan Kwok, M.D., Ph.D., received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry and his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed a residency in dermatology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. From 1993 to 2002, he was an assistant and associate professor of dermatology and genetics at the Washington University School of Medicine. In 2002, he became Professor of Dermatology and the Henry Bachrach Distinguished Professor of Cardiovascular Genetics at the University of California, San Francisco.

In addition to his clinical duties in dermatology, Dr. Kwok's research interests include human molecular genetics and DNA technology development. His group is one of the 5 genotyping centers of the International HapMap Project that created the most detailed genetic maps of the human genome. He is currently studying the genetics of psoriasis, longevity, hemorrhagic stroke, kidney transplantation outcome, and response to colon cancer chemotherapy. His group is also developing molecular techniques to study individual DNA molecules for variation analysis.

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