Thursday, July 9, 2009

FasterCures Applauds Choice of Dr. Francis Collins to Helm NIH

Swift confirmation urged for renowned geneticist and research pioneer.

FasterCures enthusiastically greets today's announcement of Dr. Francis
Collins as director of the National Institutes of Health. We urge Congress to move with deliberate speed through the confirmation process,
 and look forward to working with Dr. Collins and his staff to help chart 
a new course for NIH.

FasterCures is confident that Collins is an excellent choice to lead a
revitalized, modern NIH capable of making a huge contribution to improving the health of the world, and finding cures and treatments for the diseases that rob us of our loved ones. We call on Dr. Collins to begin the process of retraining the focus of NIH, toward outcomes-centered research and clinical research, in order to most efficiently work toward that goal.

With a budget of almost $30 billion, NIH is responsible for nearly
one-third of the biomedical research funding in the United States. It is a massive entity with boundless potential for breakthroughs; the Collins
nod is a positive step toward realizing that potential. During his 
tenure as head of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Dr.
Collins led the effort to crack the human DNA sequence. Now, as NIH
director, he has the opportunity, the resources, and the authority to push the Institutes in an equally groundbreaking direction.

"We have a great need to cure the diseases and illnesses that afflict so many of our national and global neighbors," said FasterCures COO Margaret Anderson. "With new leadership comes new opportunity. Under Dr. Collins's leadership, NIH is positioned to be a global leader in the search for cures. We need to ask more of our research enterprise - take greater risks, abandon the ethos of caution that guides government
entities and challenge the accepted limits. Dr. Collins's groundbreaking work on the genome project signals his willingness to make scientific leaps of faith. Our capacity for scientific discovery is limited only by our own timidity. This appointment could mark a new day in biomedical research."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

FasterCures Supports Grassroots Approach to Medical Research

July 7, 2009 - FasterCures today announced its support of Research Revolution, 23andMe's just launched effort that aims to change the way we learn about how genes and environment affect the causes and treatments of disease.

"In fighting disease, patience is not a virtue. Patients are. FasterCures supports efforts like 23andMe's Research Revolution that engage patients, the most valuable resource in medical research," said Margaret Anderson, COO, FasterCures.

23andMe hopes to do research on dozens of diseases, starting with these 10:
  • ALS
  • Celiac Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Lymphoma and Leukemia
  • Migraines
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Severe Food Allergies
  • Testicular Cancer
Learn more about the Research Revolution.

About FasterCures
FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions is committed to saving lives by saving time in the research, discovery and development of new treatments for deadly and debilitating diseases. FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is nonpartisan, nonprofit and independent of interest groups. For more information, visit

About 23andMe23andMe, Inc. is a privately-held company dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information using recent advances in DNA analysis technologies and web-based interactive tools. 23andMe enables individuals to gain deeper insights into personal ancestry, genealogy and inherited traits. 23andMe was founded in April 2006 by Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki. More information is available at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Taking Comparative Effectiveness Research from "Buzz-Phrase" to Practice

by Susan Semeleer, Associate Director, FasterCures
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released a report outlining its recommendations for 100 health topics that should get priority focus and funding from a $1.1 billion effort to improve the quality and efficiency of our nation’s healthcare system. At the behest of Congress, IOM conducted a study on comparative effectiveness research to provide independent guidance on how to spend $400 million to compare best practices in healthcare delivery.

Comparative effectiveness research (CER) means exactly what its name implies: it analyzes and quantifies the benefits and harms of medical treatments. It is a crucial part of the research landscape, for doctors, for patients and their caregivers, helping to build the evidence base with which to make better informed point of care decisions.

Our primary mission at FasterCures is to identify ways to accelerate the discovery and development of new therapies for the treatment of deadly and debilitating diseases. But the mission does not – cannot – stop there. The fact is, medicine is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. What works for me may make someone else violently ill; what cures you could cripple me. This is where comparative effectiveness research becomes paramount.

As we had noted in comments to the Federal Coordinating Council for CER, we hope and expect that the vision driving federal spending and prioritization on CER will continue to be enhancing and customizing care for patients. So much of medicine is driven by guess work, and a system of educated trial and error – with patients ultimately paying the price for errors. What CER aims to do is provide clinicians – and patients – with empirical evidence of what treatments, procedures and diagnostics work best.

The priority areas laid out by the IOM sets the course for a comprehensive approach to CER that calls for coordination of public and private strategies. It's one of the first few steps among many, many steps we'll need to take to ensure the health system is as effective and efficient as it could be. Now we need to focus on real examples of comparative effectiveness being done to start to dissect how this is really going to work.