Pursuing ‘the Science of the One:’ A Keynote Address on the Status and Outlook for Personalized Medicine in a Post-Pandemic World

With entire nations in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, globally renowned author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., D.Phil., published a groundbreaking article in The New Yorker in which he suggested that infected patients whose bodies contain higher concentrations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may be more likely to develop life-threatening cases of disease. If this were true, he posited, health care decision-makers might be able to use quantitative measurements of viral concentrations in blood or mucus samples to get more intensive interventions to the sickest patients, sooner.

This is not Dr. Mukherjee’s only foray into personalized medicine. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, The Gene: An Intimate History, and his latest book, The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human, which will hit the shelves on October 25, also published an essay in December in The Wall Street Journal that underlines the importance of ensuring that genetically based pre-screening and biomarker-based early detection blood tests do not transform the cancer care landscape into “an all-encompassing kingdom of the ill.”

The article recognizes the promise of detecting cancers at earlier stages, when they may be easier and less expensive to treat. It also alludes to the importance of carefully articulating the risks and benefits of multi-cancer early detection tests to patients. In this new era, Dr. Mukherjee observes, physicians and test developers have a renewed obligation to help patients “find a balance between curative therapies and the condition of being mortal.”

The Personalized Medicine Coalition has invited Dr. Mukherjee to share with us his thinking about the future of personalized medicine. Dr. Mukherjee will be introduced by Harvard Medical School Professor and PMC co-founder Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D.

  • Introduction

    Raju Kucherlapati, Ph.D.
    Paul C. Cabot Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

  • Keynote Speaker

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., D.Phil.
    Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University