Precision Medicine Vision

Precision medicine is medical diagnosis, prevention and treatment based on an individual’s variation in genes, environment, and lifestyle. Knowledge of an individual’s personal genome allows us to make informed decisions about the best medical care available, for that person. From fundamental discoveries to the clinic, Columbia... Read more

Social Implications


As precision medicine expands into clinical care, existing social issues related to the clinical sciences will rapidly evolve to include issues of genetics and genomics, which underlie diverse issues such as identity and privacy. Columbia University scholars are already laying the groundwork necessary to explore these complex social issues, which will frame the implementation of precision medicine.

Some of the questions that will have to be addressed include:

  • What is the impact of collecting huge data sets of genomic information on personal privacy and confidentiality? Who “owns” genetic data?
  • How does precision medicine challenge scholarship that has worked to delink race and ethnicity from genetics?  Which populations are being left out of genetic research and what are the implications?
  • Does society change how it judges individual behavior if there is increasing awareness of genetic predispositions?
  • How will precision medicine intersect with the movement for patients’ and disability rights?  Will the genetic knowledge arising from precision medicine challenge rational liberal rights discourse?
  • How does precision medicine change how care is given and received?
  • How will precision medicine influence the responsibilities of healthcare professionals toward individuals and their families, as well as the interaction among family members around issues of health?
  • At a societal level, how will genetic knowledge influence social welfare policies?



Jonathan Pritchard 

Professor in the Departments of Genetics and Biology at Stanford University and an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute