Franklin Cockerill, M.D., Chair of the Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, recently participated in the 21st Century Cures Roundtable on Personalized Medicine hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, Dr. Cockerill told the congressional subcommittee, “Mayo develops 150 tests per year in an attempt to become more precise in treating patients.”
When discussing the importance of individual treatment, Dr. Cockerill said, “The Rochester-based clinic is moving toward tests that will let doctors tailor treatments that are unique to individuals. For instance, instead of using standard dosages, Mayo’s labs try to transform scientific discoveries into ‘valid tests’ that allow doctors to apply ‘specific genetic findings in a patient’.”
The roundtable discussion also touched on the issue of laboratory research funding. With a cut in laboratory research funding, testing is very costly. Dr. Cockerill adds, “Gathering data may not be as difficult as figuring out how to pay for it and use it.”
According to the Star Tribune article, Dr. Cockerill favors government and private programs that allow at least partial third-party payments for limited amounts of time to determine the widespread effectiveness of the most promising genomic breakthroughs. He also believes doctors’ ability to apply established lab tests to new diseases provides a road “to move science forward in a safe way.”
The roundtable discussion also questioned the morals of understanding a person’s genetic makeup, and how much people want to know about their medical futures is a matter of individual choice.
For instance, Dr. Cockerill would rather not know if he is genetically coded to get an incurable terminal disease. “For diseases that you can do something about, people want that,” he said.