Following the successful 2016 Spring Conference of the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM), hosted by the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS), the second European Conference on Precision Medicine and Personalized Health was held at Campus Biotech in Geneva, Switzerland, on 28 September 2018.
The one-day conference focused on recent developments in precision medicine and personalised health, and attracted senior representatives of the biomedical community from Switzerland and from across Europe.
The key message coming out of the FEAM conference on personalised health was that the patient should always be at the heart of new biomedical research.
Personalised medicine is sexy, a relatively new field of medicine that’s managed to capture the minds and imagination of the general public. However, Prof. Daniel Schiedegger expressed the concern he felt while attending another conference recently, where the focus was on how much money could be made from precision medicine, rather than the welfare of the patient. He warned that if healthcare professionals leave this field to tech giants and businessmen, the patients’ needs and wishes could be completely overlooked.
FEAM’s president, Prof. George Griffin, invited delegates to remember that medical care has always been personal – the doctor standing by the bedside of a patient, finding a solution to their specific problem. Should there then be a different term for this branch of medicine, he wondered?
Throughout the day, scientists from around the world presented their research in this field. The success of the 100 000 Genome Project was discussed, as well as an Estonian biobank that contains the DNA of 5% of Estonia’s population. The use of precision medicine in the treatment of lupus was presented, and how it can be used to help people with metastatic cancer.
The conference also heard about how precision medicine fits into the field of metabolomics, and that personalised lipid-lowering therapy could help those who suffer from high cholesterol.
The importance of big data for personalised medicine was put forward by Prof. Stylianos Antonarakis, who had brought with him a huge printed book that detailed the entire sequence of chromosome 21.
The conference did not focus only on the scientific perspective – Prof. Joshua Hordern, an ethicist from the University of Oxford, spoke about the ethical problems that could arise, while Denis Horgan, the executive director of the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) examined the European legislative and policy implications.