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Message from the Vice-President, Research

Michael Julius

We are at the precipice of the most profound change in how we diagnose and treat disease.

Precision medicine seeks to treat and ultimately prevent disease by taking into account individual variability. For example, how patients respond to a therapy—even one that is widely used—is all over the map: it might work brilliantly for some and not at all for others; even when it works, it might have serious adverse effects.

Precision medicine seeks to minimize this ambiguity. It works by collecting and using personal health information to give care that “fits” a person much more closely, based on one’s genetic, cellular and molecular makeup; physiology; lifestyle; environmental influences and other factors; as well as how these factors interact with each other.

One’s genetic profile is perhaps the most important of these, because it is our biology that holds many of the answers regarding the origins and mechanisms of health and disease. Certainly, the most notable advances have been in this arena, emerging from the extraordinary opportunities afforded by the genomics era in which we now live.

Bottom line: precision medicine means focusing on an individual’s disease and a tailored plan for care based on one’s unique “measurements.” We have some distance to travel to get there, but the journey is well underway, as you’ll read in some of the stories in this issue, with its special focus on the research of the Odette Cancer Program.


Michael Julius
Vice-President, Research
Sunnybrook Research Institute & Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Professor, Departments of Immunology & Medical Biophysics
Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto