Precision medicine

We define precision medicine as treatments targeted to the needs of individual patients on the basis of genetic, biomarker, phenotypic, or psychosocial characteristics that distinguish a given patient from other patients with similar clinical presentations. Inherent in this definition is the goal of improving clinical outcomes for individual patients and minimizing unnecessary side effects for those less likely to have a response to a particular treatment.

Source: Jameson JL, Longo DL (2015) Precision Medicine – Personalized, Problematic and Promising.  N Engl J Med 372; 23: 2229.

Example of the term in use:

In precision medicine, the ultimate end point is the selection of a subset of patients, with a common biological basis of disease, who are most likely to benefit from a drug or other treatment, such as a particular surgical procedure.

National Research Council of the National Academies (2011) Toward Precision Medicine. Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease. The National Academies Press. Page 37.

Personalised medicine

… “personalized medicine” suggests an approach to care that is based on individuals rather than groups. The term has been used to describe the consideration of characteristics such as age, coexisting conditions, preferences, and beliefs in crafting an individual management strategy; the use of advanced individual genomic information in choosing an expensive biologic agent; and the development of therapies biologically tailored to patient needs, such as customized monoclonal antibodies and vaccines.

Source: Garber AM, Tunis SR (2009) Does Comparative-Effectiveness Research threaten Personalized Medicine? NEJM 360; 19: 1925-1926.

Example of the term in use:

Even though personalized medicine will be useful to better understand rare diseases and identify novel therapeutic targets for some conditions, the promise of improved risk prediction, behavior change, lower costs, and gains in public health for common diseases seem unrealistic.

Joyner MJ, Paneth N (2015) Seven Questions for Personalized Medicine.  JAMA.  Published online June 22 2015.  Downloaded from

Stratified medicine

Stratified medicine is based on identifying subgroups of patients with distinct mechanisms of disease, or particular responses to treatments. This allows us to identify and develop treatments that are effective for particular groups of patients. Ultimately stratified medicine will ensure that the right patient gets the right treatment at the right time.

Source: Medical Research Council. Stratified medicine.

Example of the term in use:

Stratified medicine is a rapidly developing field that is likely to have an important impact on clinical practice in the coming decades. … the term ‘stratified medicine’ is more accurate than the still popular term ‘personalized medicine’. The term ‘stratified medicine’ reflects the realistic effects of medicines at population level, while the term ‘personalized medicine’ reflects the possibly overambitious promise of individualized unique drug targeting and development.

World Health Organization. Priority Medicines for Europe and the World 2013 Update. Section 7.4 Stratified medicine and pharmacogenomics. Page 1.