Systematic Molecular Phenotyping: A Path Toward Precision Emergency Medicine?

Acad Emerg Med. 2016 Oct;23(10):1097-1106. doi: 10.1111/acem.13027. Epub 2016 Oct 3.


Precision medicine is an emerging approach to disease treatment and prevention that considers variability in patient genes, environment, and lifestyle. However, little has been written about how such research impacts emergency care. Recent advances in analytical techniques have made it possible to characterize patients in a more comprehensive and sophisticated fashion at the molecular level, promising highly individualized diagnosis and treatment. Among these techniques are various systematic molecular phenotyping analyses (e.g., genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics). Although a number of emergency physicians use such techniques in their research, widespread discussion of these approaches has been lacking in the emergency care literature and many emergency physicians may be unfamiliar with them. In this article, we briefly review the underpinnings of such studies, note how they already impact acute care, discuss areas in which they might soon be applied, and identify challenges in translation to the emergency department (ED). While such techniques hold much promise, it is unclear whether the obstacles to translating their findings to the ED will be overcome in the near future. Such obstacles include validation, cost, turnaround time, user interface, decision support, standardization, and adoption by end-users.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Emergency Medicine / trends*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Phenotype
  • Precision Medicine / trends*


  • Biomarkers