Next FierceBiotech Event: 'Big Data Gets Smart'

Colin Hill, CEO of GNS Healthcare

The term "Big Data" sounds mostly like marketing speak to real data scientists, who work with datasets of all sizes to develop applications in healthcare and other sectors. For these data pros, it's about having the right data, not just a lot of data, to make sure they are providing something of value to a customer.

This is why FierceBiotech is calling its executive breakfast panel in Boston next month "Big Data Gets Smart," with Colin Hill, the CEO of data analytics outfit GNS Healthcare (@GNSHealthcare), as our expert moderator. Our audience has moved way beyond the conversation about what is big data--and, if I'm wrong about that, here's a refresher from Wikipedia on that overused term--to a discussion about how top minds in biotech are wielding data to create breakthrough products and valuable services. (Secure a seat now.)

Take Foundation Medicine (a 2012 Fierce 15 company), which has leveraged patient cancer data, pharmacological data and genomics to provide customers with data about matches between drugs and genetic traits. The company's data could help doctors bring more targeted or personalized treatment to cancer patients. Cambridge, MA-based Foundation has found backing from many top investors, including Google Ventures, which makes VC investments with money from Google ($GOOG), one of the world's top providers of data products.

Is Foundation Medicine just the beginning of a major trend in transforming raw data into valuable products in biotech? Krishna Yeshwant (@Kyeshwant), our panelist from Google Ventures, is on the board of Foundation. He knows all about the route biotech data travels to become a product. He is a programmer as well as a physician and entrepreneur. His other investments that are relevant to the panel discussion include Flatiron Health, DNAnexus and several others.

Biotech regulators wouldn't be surprised to learn that the FDA sits on a trove of drug toxicity data. Eric Perakslis, an informatics expert from Harvard Medical School, has spent much of his career working on informatics platforms to transform lab data into knowledge for drug R&D. Prior to Harvard, Perakslis worked as chief information officer and chief scientist (informatics) at the FDA. Coupled with his experience as an R&D IT exec at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), he brings a unique perspective on what data exist to create new software tools and products of the future.

Atlas Venture Partner Bruce Booth (@LifeSciVC) melded advanced chemical informatics with old-school drug hunting know-how to form Nimbus Discovery. Booth, who served as interim CEO of Nimbus, brings a unique perspective on how new computational innovations and lab science work hand in hand to streamline drug discovery. He will join GNS's Hill on the panel.

Has Booth's hypothesis for faster and better drug discovery at Nimbus panned out? What are the opportunities to create valuable products from the kind of datasets Perakslis has worked with for much of his career? What does Google Ventures have up its sleeve to support disruptive new products and companies in healthcare? How will these rapid changes in the biotech industry shape our jobs?

These are the types of questions we plan to address at "Big Data Gets Smart." Register here. -- Ryan McBride (email | Twitter)