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

Model Systems

Columbia model systems lab image

Precision medicine is based on the availability and deep understanding of how the genome works. Much progress has been made in understanding fundamental biological mechanisms, and this pursuit has been dramatically advanced by the availability of the sequence of the human genome and the genomes of model organisms. The genome contains the blueprint for building an organism and for determining how it interacts with its environment.

A key challenge of 21st century biology is to decipher the functional elements encoded in this blueprint.  The most fruitful strategies to decipher the functional instructions encoded in the genome make use of molecular genetic approaches with genetically amenable organisms (often called model organisms). Genetic analyses that employed model organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, nematodes and fruit flies has led to the discovery of most of the basic principles regarding how the genome encodes information, and how basic biological processes operate.  This research has also provided insights into human disease mechanisms and introduced a number of extremely promising tools, such as RNA interference and CRISPR/Cas9, for molecular medicine.



Jonathan Pritchard 

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