“(De)Personalized Medicine”

Personalized medicine uses a patient’s genetic information to help determine the best type of treatment for them. This sounds promising, however in many cases environmental factors dominate genetic factors.  For example, traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors are better predictors of disease than genetic factors.  In a recent issue of Science, Horwitz et al, argue that it is essential to integrate clinical, social, and environmental data with the individualized genomic and molecular information when treating a patient in order to provide the best care.

The implications of a genomics-based to “personalized” medical treatment are considerable.  For example, treatment of native American Pima Indians (who are at high genetic risk of diabetes but have a low indicence of disease) would result in exaggerated risk assessment and overtreatment. The authors suggest that personalized treatment would be “equally inappropriate” for present day Pima Indians consuming a Western diet, due to the importance of “gene-environment interactions.”

What are your thoughts?


Horwitz, R.I., et al., Medicine. (De)personalized medicine. Science, 2013. 339(6124): p. 1155-6.

Translational Obesity Research Conference at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech invites you to participate in our first biennial obesity conference entitled “How can translational research solve the obesity epidemic?” 

When: June 17-18, 2013

Where: Blacksburg, VA

Speakers from Louisiana State University, Wake Forest University, and Harvard University will be attending.

Registration is now open. For more information, visit:


What plays a larger role in obesity? Genetics or Economic Conditions?

Over the past thirty years, the cost of fattening foods has decreased while the rates of obesity have heightened. It has been found that both genetics and the environment can have an effect on obesity, but which plays a larger role?

Dr. George Davis from the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics and Dr. Deborah Good from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise have joined forces to investigate this problem.

The investigators concluded that cost of food — rather than one’s genetic makeup — is a major factor in the decisions that lead to eating high fat foods.

“People get the impression that if something is in their genes, there is nothing they can do about it,” Davis said. “This gives us hope that people who are predisposed to certain types of behavior can overcome those impulses by using economic incentives.”

Read the full articles here:

VT News Article: Economic conditions may trump genetics when battling obesity

Published Manuscript: Effects of Incentives and Genetics on Food Choices and Weight Phenotypes in the Neuroendocrine Gene Tubby Mutant Mice