• This is the first edition of the personalised and precision medicine course, which aims to become a benchmark in the sector
• “The first step is to educate ourselves, to understand the language each of us speaks” (Antoni Sisó, president of CAMFiC)
The Personalised and Precision Medicine Course organised by Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), with the support of the Catalan Society of Family and Community Medicine (CAMFiC), was presented last Friday.
Presenting the course were Salvador Macip Maresma, professor in the UOC Faculty of Health Sciences; Juan Manuel Fernández Costa, researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), a BIST centre; and Antoni Sisó Almirall, president of CAMFiC. “This presentation is a trailer for the course, which aims to become a reference for the sector,” said Macip, who is responsible for the syllabus along with Fernández.
The course, which begins in October, is intended for family doctors and other healthcare professionals, including nurses and public health management professionals, as well as those working in biology, and pharmaceutical and general health sciences. The main objective of the course is to train professionals in existing and future precision medicine, and its applications. “It is up to us as family doctors to learn new languages; if we don’t, we widen the knowledge gap between family medicine and new precision medicine therapies, which are already in reach of the public health system. And this knowledge gap will have a negative impact on patient care,” explained Antoni Sisó.
The course is innovative, both in terms of the UOC format and the teaching staff. It is organised as a series of asynchronous sessions, that is, it does not have a fixed schedule and therefore makes it possible for the students, who are healthcare professionals, to adapt the training to their lives, and consult the course material whenever is convenient. The course instructors are researchers in precision medicine, a field in which BIST have a strong capacity -see, for example, the upcoming BIST Conference on Precision Medicine. CAMFiC’s collaboration is key to designing a course aligned with the training needs of the sector.
Personalised and precision medicine – what’s the difference?
Family doctors already carry out personalised medicine, as Sisó and Fernández have said. Family doctors care for their patients by focusing on the person (context, comprehensive and biopsychosocial approach), and not on the disease. However, precision medicine is a different concept than we are used to. It offers treatments tailored to each patient based on genetics and genomics, as well as other “omics” and techniques based on the analysis of a whole set (all genes in genomics, or all proteins in proteomics). These omics allow us to make reliable diagnostic decisions and treatments that will minimise adverse effects (very common, for example, in oncological therapies) and maximise efficacy.
Juan Manuel Fernández explained that “it took more than 20 years to sequence the human genome, because techniques did not allow certain structures to be deciphered. Today it is much cheaper to sequence a person’s entire genome.” Fernández added that technology is advancing very quickly and that it is not implausible to think that in a few years we will have miniaturised systems to carry out gene, protein, or microbiota analyses in family medicine practices, or at other medical care points. With these analyses, health professionals will be able to tailor a treatment or diagnosis to each individual case.
The course presentation seminar can be seen here (in catalan and spanish)