For more than a decade we have worked hard, in collaboration with our patients, to establish a framework that allows us to make real strides toward understanding disease mechanism, and toward better therapy and prevention.
This framework involves collecting large amounts of detailed information about disease characteristics and how they evolve over time, coupled with collecting samples that offer snapshots of disease at successive times. This framework has grown enormously, and it is supporting new programs in Precision Medicine.
Precision Medicine means taking everything we know about the patient clinically – evidence we can see in physical symptoms, that we can glean from what the patient tells us, observe in scans, and measure in increasingly sophisticated lab tests. You may have heard the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” Well, Precision Medicine is seeing groups of trees and seeing the forest, too. It’s seeing that within a waiting room full of people with the same disease, these three have the same particular symptoms, and these five over here have their own set of symptoms. They’re similar but essentially different – and we now know that people in these distinct subgroups have diseases that are being driven by different mechanisms, and thus may need different treatment.
Sir William Osler, first chief of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, pointed out that the understanding of human disease would come from studying humans, and would require perfecting the art of observation, bringing to bear the science of experimentation, and sharpening the reasoning faculty so as to know true from false. Our current era brings enormous opportunities to accomplish this, using novel measurement and analytical tools. This is the moment for Precision Medicine.
You can read about our precision approach to an increasingly common illness, gout (Page 6), to a rare illness linked to Sjögren’s (Page 10), and to cancer patients who are developing some autoimmune-mediated complications (Page 12). And we are especially excited to share with you a tremendous breakthrough in understanding how rheumatoid arthritis begins (Page 2).
In Leap, we have always shared stories about ourselves because we want you to know why we do what we do. In our Story Project (Page 14), you’ll get to know three wonderful people whose smiling faces you may have seen in our clinics. They are incredibly dedicated to making your life better.
Antony Rosen, M.D.
Director, Division of Rheumatology
Vice Dean for Research