Epistemology, Ethics, and Progress in Precision Medicine

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 59 (3):293-310 (2016)


One of the central goals of precision medicine is to dissolve the long-standing tension between the population-level data provided by traditional randomized controlled trials and the physician’s need to prescribe therapies for their individual patient. The RCT can tell the physician that therapy A is, on average, more effective than therapy B for a population of patients, P, but this does not tell her whether A is more effective for the particular patient, p1, in front of her. However, by leveraging the tools and insights of molecular biology, precision medicine hopes to prospectively determine which therapies will work for which patients and overcome this problem. Fundamental to the...

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Spencer Hey
Harvard University

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