When President Barack Obama announced a new Precision Medicine Initiative this past January, the National Press Foundation thought it would be a good idea for journalists to spend some quality time with the subject. And what better way to make that happen than a visit to Mayo Clinic, where precision medicine – or individualized medicine, as we like to call it -- has been a cornerstone of efforts to improve patient care now and into the future?
We're told by our friends in Media Relations that 20 national health reporters came to Rochester in May for a four-day National Press Foundation event. Mayo Clinic hosted the event intended to help the journalists "better grasp the complexities and issues of precision medicine." It put the journalists in the same room -- and in at least one case, at the same Happy Hour -- with nationally recognized experts, researchers and clinicians from Mayo Clinic. Deep discussion ensued. The topics, we're told, included everything from the Human Genome Project and pharmacogenomics, to biomarkers and imaging, precision medicine and bioethics, issues of access and regulation, epigenetics, and Big Data in genomic research.
In addition to these sit-downs, a Mayo history tour and tour of the Mayo Clinic Biobank, Mayo also gave the journalists access to the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, according to Sharon Theimer, Media Relations. "The Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center and Healthy Living Program also participated by giving the journalists access to work out each day, providing trainers to teach them desk-side stretches during the first break each day, and allowing them to use its space for the final day of the meeting," she says. It worked. Theimer says that at least one of the journalists began to re-think his home address and said "he thinks he should move to Rochester."
He wasn't alone in his reaction. Theimer tells us other journalists "talked all week" about the "incredible access" they'd been given to Mayo's facilities and our precision medicine experts. A Chicago Tribune reporter said it was "the best educational program she'd ever been to." A Palm Beach Post reporter said he wished he had a place to work out "that's as nice as the DAHLC." And Theimer tells us several of the journalists "picked up on Mayo's culture" during their visit and then asked if our physicians "really are as nice as they seem?" (Spoiler alert: They are.)
For more on what the journalists learned during their time at Mayo, check out this review on the National Press Foundation's website. Then, give us your review with a comment below. And be sure to share this story with others using the social media tools above.