Personalised Medicine for the European citizen - towards more precise medicine for the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease


Dedicated funding and support is required to ensure personalised medicine can be implemented across Europe's healthcare systems. The Forward Look report, 'Personalised Medicine for the European Citizen', brought together experts from a wide range of disciplines to identify the most pressing issues affecting the development and implementation of personalised medicine across Europe. Key stakeholders, from patient groups to regulators, industry and academia were consulted through a series of meetings designed to facilitate the discussion on the key issues.

Personalised medicine, a strategy based on individual phenotyping of profiles rather than the long established 'one-size-fits-all' approach identifies elements that predict the individuals' response to treatment and their predisposition to disease. This healthcare model places heavy emphasis on the maintenance and investment of these cohorts providing a healthcare system with a modern, prospective approach; an essential strategy for the analysis and understanding of disease over time in well characterised populations.

Professor Stephen Holgate, Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton (UK) and a leading expert in the consultation commented, "Personalised medicine has become increasingly important in the future of healthcare, by targeting patients with specific treatment programmes tailored to the individuals needs".

Alongside Professor Holgate, the scientific committee responsible for compiling this report included:

  • Professor Aarno Palotie, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Helsinki University (FI)
  • Professor Barbara Prainsack, Centre for Biomedicine & Society (CBAS), Brunel University (UK)
  • Professor Angela Brand, Institute for Public Health Genomics (IPHG), Maastricht University (NL)
  • Professor Hans Lehrach, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (DE)

The report outlines a series of recommendations under four core headings:

Data handling
Comprehensive, accessible and interoperable datasets must be generated to support the development of a new disease taxonomy and allow for its ongoing refinement and application.

Models and decision-making processes
Models and decision-making processes must be revised to reflect a focus on the individual. This should happen at all levels, from assessment of the safety and efficacy of interventions, through HTA and reimbursement to diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Interdisciplinarity, participation and translational research
Emphasis must be placed on stakeholder participation, interdisciplinary interaction, public-private and precompetitive partnerships, and translational research in order to develop the frameworks that support the vision of personalised medicine and healthcare.

Infrastructure and resources
Dedicated funding and governmental support must be provided to ensure the availability of core infrastructure, including access to core technology and frameworks for education and training of professionals and the wider community.

Professor Liselotte Højgaard, MED (formerly EMRC) Chair (2006/2012) commented, "We hope that the recommendations in our report wil now be taken up by stakeholders throughout Europe to ensure the successful introduction and sustainable implementation of personalised medicine".

The report can be downloaded by clicking on the image to the right.  


Healthcare is on the brink of a revolution precipitated by dramatic advances in biomedical research. The ability to distinguish, at the molecular level, what makes one person different from another lies at the heart of this fundamental shift. Combined, these developments will change our approach to medicine from finding cures towards individualised prediction, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Individualised biological profiles will increasingly be used to determine a person’s individual healthcare needs. This paradigm shift, referred to as ‘personalised medicine’, not only involves biomedical and technological issues, but likely also impinges on overarching societal, ethical, financial and legal questions.

In order to gain insight into this shift towards what is called today ‘personalised medicine’, and into the needs in terms of research programmes, infrastructures, policy and education, the European Science Foundation (ESF) has decided to launch a foresight exercise - a Forward Look - to explore the scientific and social aspects of how personalised medicine might advance in the future. Due to the broad and complex basis of this area, the present Forward Look is fully supported by all ESF Standing Committees for Medical Sciences (MED (formerly EMRC)), Life, Earth & Environment (LEE (formerly LESC)), Social Sciences (SOC (formerly SCSS)), Physical and Engineering Sciences (PEN (formerly PESC)) and the Humanities (HUM (formerly SCH)).


January 2011 - June 2012

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