By Sarah Alawi
There has long been a debate about the potential ethical conflict between the role of the clinician and that of the clinical researcher. On the one hand, the overriding ethical obligation of a clinician is to maximize the individual patient’s health; on the other, the overriding ethical principle of the researcher is to produce socially useful research, with the consequence that, at times, it may require subordinating the best interests of the individual to achieve the greatest public good.
Although some have called into question the utility of this framing, the concept of ultra-personalized medicine is pushing this debate even further. The idea of ultra-personalized medicine – or “custom drugs” – is not new. As NHS England puts it, although “clinicians have been working to personalize care… throughout the history of medicine,” technological and scientific advances mean that never before has it been possible to move to an era of “truly personalized care.”