U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Friday it is critical that America increase its investment in promising medical advances like precision medicine or risk losing its competitive edge.
"If we aren't doing this, someone else in the world is going to do it," the senator told reporters after touring Mayo Clinic's Biobank.
Precision medicine has been thrust into the national spotlight after President Obama made the case to fund this groundbreaking research last month in his State of the Union address. Mayo Clinic Dr. Richard Weinshilboum said precision medicine involves using genetic information to tailor treatment to the needs of specific patients.
"We really have now begun to take the genomic data that has come out of the genomic project and taken it right to the bedside," he said. "All of us know that all of us are different, we are different with regard to the way we respond to drugs, with regard to what diseases run in families."
Klobuchar said she is sponsoring a bill that would boost funding for the National Institutes of Health by 5 percent each year so more dollars can be poured into this type of research.
"It's exciting that something that has suddenly become in the national dialogue where people didn't even know what it was before is being done right here are Mayo," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar said she plans to highlight a recent Rochester sex trafficking case when making the case that it's urgent Congress take steps to crackdown on these crimes.
Klobuchar is sponsoring a bill modeled after Minnesota's "Safe Harbor" law, which makes sure children sold for sex are treated like victims instead of criminals. She said these victims can get the help they need and then testify against the ring leaders responsible for orchestrating these crimes. A Senate hearing on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday.
"That's the Minnesota model, and it's resulted in 40-year sentences in Ramsey County," Klobuchar said.
Lee Andrew Paul, 34, was recently charged in federal court with sex trafficking of a minor. Paul allegedly tricked a 12-year-old girl into meeting him at a Rochester business. He sexually assaulted her and forced her to engage in sex trafficking in the Twin Cities.
Klobuchar said, "I plan on using this (Rochester) case as one of the examples of why we need to pass the bill."