When a patient needs care, it is vital that their treatment is tailored to their specific needs. Through the efforts and expertise of people like Patricia Munerato, clinicians and physicians are now able to develop individual treatment plans with more precision than ever before.
That buzz phrase – precision medicine – is at the core of Munerato’s work. A senior manager and clinical leader for Thermo Fisher Scientific, Munerato leads the genetic sciences and clinical next generation sequencing teams in Latin America by helping them define and execute commercial strategy.
“What I do helps treat each cancer patient as a unique individual, and that’s making an impact throughout Latin America and around the world,” she said.
One of Munerato’s most impactful projects was the creation of the Center of Excellence in Precision Medicine (CEPM) in Chile. In 2015 Thermo Fisher, Pfizer Inc. and the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) joined forces to build a precision medicine infrastructure with the goal of improving the understanding of cancer diagnosis and care.
“The first project was to validate a more sensitive and informative molecular test for lung cancer treatment using next generation sequencing technology,” Munerato said.
During its first three years, the CEPM has expanded to three central lab locations in Chile and Brazil and has analyzed more than 2,000 lung cancer tissue samples using the Oncomine Focus Assay, developed by Thermo Fisher to analyze solid tumors. The scientific and clinical data generated at these sites is changing the way cancer is being treated today, resulting in prolonging and improving thousands of lives.
In addition to helping establish the CEPM, Munerato became involved at one of its central locations in Brazil and assisted in a groundbreaking effort to genotype HIV from patients under treatment in public care.
“Brazil is the first country in the world to implement a national lab network, one that has increased life expectancy and reduced treatment costs for thousands of patients,” explains Munerato.
This lab network and the CEPM have made it possible for thousands of patients in South America to receive personalized care and has given scientists, physicians and technicians the opportunity to use the latest technology to scale up their ability to improve care for many more patients in the coming decades.
As she looks ahead, Munerato sees continued breakthroughs in precision medicine, envisioning a time when “accessible and actionable molecular tests will be available to answer the majority of clinical and treatment questions.” These advances will allow for molecular testing democratization, with testing more accessible and cost-effective.
“I really believe that precision medicine will bring more assertive and efficient diagnostic and treatment options, which ultimately will bring better quality of life to more individuals.”
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