In Colombia, a new building is named after US Senator Roy Blunt, in tribute to the attention and funding he gave to health research while he was in Congress.

The Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building will house a new kind of research – focused on individual cases of disease or response to treatment – including clinical trials.

At the facility’s grand opening, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins praised the concept when he addressed the crowd of politicians, administrators and scientists.

“So what is precision medicine, precision health? What the hell is precision anyway. It’s a term that has only been around for a few years. And I’ll tell you, it’s kind of the opposite of one size fits all. We’re all different. We have different types of environmental exposures, different different health behaviors, oh yeah, DNA, I’ll have to point that out too, ”Collins said. “Cancer is certainly an example. Each cancer has a different set of misspellings in the genome. And if we want to manage cancer in the most effective way, you don’t want one size fits all. You want precision, cancer genomics, which is now the kind of thing that’s going to happen in a big way here. “

The Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health building will house health research that is expected to bring nearly $ 5 billion to the state’s economy over the next 25 years. The research projects will harness the resources of all of UM’s campuses, private companies and government scientists in a “lab-to-bedside” approach.

Collins worked with the Human Genome Project and served under three presidents. Still, he says it was Blunt who changed the way Congress treats health research – and funding.

“In that six-year period, the NIH has seen no less than a 43% increase in its budget, and most of that is going to places like this. So when you see the advancements in medical research that have become possible in those five or six years and the people who go into this field and find it possible to be funded by the NIH grants, it is is the guy who made this kind of trajectory happen that I will always be grateful for, ”Collins said. “

Blunt is retiring in 15 months, but says he plans to spend the rest of his office time mobilizing support for health research, including the creation of a new institute at NIH dedicated to advanced research for Healthcare.

“Where the government partner, in a promising moment, becomes a more active partner … just as with Radx [developing COVID-19 rapid tests in record time]. “Blunt said.” A way to move forward now with the promising times when government can be more involved and get this precision medicine response to people faster than they otherwise would and clearly this facility can and will be an extremely important part of this. “

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