Instead of extensively touting Obamacare, President Obama called for more medical research in his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday.

He announced a new "Precision Medicine Initiative" aimed at finding cures for diseases like cancer and diabetes and making advances in targeted treatments based on a patient's genes.

"I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time," Obama said, eliciting applause from both Democrats and Republicans. "In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable."

One of first lady Michelle Obama's guests was a young Ohio man with a rare genetic form of cystic fibrosis.

Congressional leaders have already been working together to draw focus to medical research. In their initiative called "21st Century Cures," House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., have held a series of hearings over the last year themed on improving research and accelerating the discovery of cures.

At the same time, recent spending plans passed by Congress have chipped away at medical research by cutting funds for the National Institutes of Health.