Mayo officials didn't get caught up in quibbling over the term. The imperative was to establish the center now, to move ahead in personalized medicine—or whatever it will come to be known as in the future. "It really came to one thing … how do we take it into practice?" Farrugia explained.
"If you are a cardiologist in the institution, how do you see [personalized] medicine working? The Mayo leadership truly believes that if we are going to make an impact on our patients, we need a place to drive it into routine clinical practice."
A significant Mayo Clinic undertaking in personalized medicine includes its Breast Cancer Genome-Guided Therapy Study, in which 200 patients have been identified and will participate in a clinical trial involving whole genome sequencing.
Women diagnosed with "high-risk" cancers scheduled to receive standard chemotherapy surgery will have their healthy genome and their breast cancer tumor cells sequenced before treatment, and then will receive chemotherapy to shrink the tumor.
To those patients with high-risk recurrence of cancer, personalized medicine may represent a breakthrough. "Say you went through standard therapy and relapsed, and then into a second drug and were resistant. Now that tumor has spread and you are looking for something. By doing genome sequencing earlier, you can find that first line therapy and second line therapy sooner," Farrugia says.