Advancing genomic discoveries from the lab to clinics
Dr. Eric Topol
Director, Scripps Translational Science Institute
For all the massive healthcare reforms to come from Washington, D.C., the future of medicine may reside in the back pockets of patients in the form of a mobile device rather than on Capitol Hill. DNA sequencing, social media, and personal electronics have begun to converge in medical research and healthcare. And nobody understands this quite like Dr. Eric Topol, the geneticist and cardiologist who wrote the book about this ongoing phenomenon, The Creative Destruction of Medicine.
Topol leads the Scripps institute dedicated to translational science, pushing to advance genomic discoveries from the lab to clinics that can provide personalized treatment with the help of digital technologies and other tools. And he's big on the idea of translating big data sets from genomic studies and DNA sequencing to identify genetic markers that predict drug side effects and flag risks for health disasters such as heart attacks before they happen.
Like other luminaries such as Dr. Leroy Hood, Topol wants mainstream healthcare to incorporate genomics into the practice of predictive medicine, given that most experts agree that the best way to fight disease is to foretell and forestall illnesses. Yet it's easier said than done, requiring tech infrastructure to support data crunching and communications to doctors and patients on a grand scale. For his part, Topol helped found Cypher Genomics with his colleagues to advance analytics that can rapidly set apart harmless differences in the DNA code from those that could mean trouble.
Meanwhile, Topol is on the leading edge of changing the way experts like himself communicate with the public, as he's active on Twitter and has advocated for the expanded use of social platforms like Facebook in healthcare.
"Facebook has this massive and powerful platform [that] can be deployed for healthcare," Topol told Wired recently.
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