LAWRENCE —The University of Kansas' top innovation and entrepreneurship official will now have a leading role in the move toward personalized medicine, perhaps the most high-potential field in all of health care.
Julie Goonewardene, KU associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization, has been elected to the board of directors of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, the nation's foremost advocacy group for personalized medicine.
As a board member, Goonewardene will help guide the overall direction of the PMC and its efforts to educate policymakers, physicians and the public about personalized medicine — the rapidly evolving healthcare field that seeks to use individuals' genetic and genomic information to create individualized treatments, which many see as the future of medicine.
Goonewardene was appointed to the PMC board two weeks ago during the 8th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. The PMC finalized her appointment with an announcement today. Other board members include executives from Eli Lilly & Company, Oracle, LabCorp and Pfizer, to name a few.
"I'm honored to be named to the PMC board alongside some of the most innovative and important people in the industry," said Goonewardene, who will serve a three-year term. "PMC has been a leader in personalized medicine for nearly a decade, and I look forward to sharing my experiences and contributing to the development of personalized medicine. In addition, I look forward to using this opportunity to promote KU's incredible assets in this field and to ensure KU research priorities are properly aligned with future healthcare trends."
Goonewardene's appointment gives KU a front-row seat in the personalized medicine movement, which many believe is the next big thing in healthcare. Generally, personalized medicine refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient, and to classify individuals into subpopulations that differ in their susceptibility to a particular disease or their response to a specific treatment. Treatments can then be concentrated on those who will benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who won't.
Advances in personalized medicine have increased since 2003, when the Human Genome Project was completed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. Today, many scientists believe that personalized medicine is the future of healthcare — the next logical step in a world that knows more about genetics, disease, and wellness than ever before.
"Julie's appointment to the Personalized Medicine Coalition board of directors speaks volumes of her reputation among her peers," said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "Not only will Julie contribute to the PMC's mission, but she'll also be an ambassador for KU and help connect our researchers and health care practitioners with opportunities nationwide. This will benefit her efforts to drive innovation, job creation and the commercialization of research here at KU."
This is the second major organization board to which Goonewardene has been appointed in the past year. In November 2011, she was elected to the board of trustees of the American Medical Association, the nation's largest association of medical doctors and medical students.