Systems biology pioneer
Name: Dr. Leroy Hood
Title: President and co-founder
Organization: Institute for Systems Biology
Lee Hood has managed to stay on the cutting edge of biology for about four decades, in a pioneering career that has put him on the forefront of DNA sequencing, systems biology and personalized medicine. His long string of successes has come in part because of his deep understating of the complex nature of biology. How does he deal with this complexity?
Hood has invited applied physicists, computer scientists, engineers and mathematicians to aid in efforts to understand the intricate molecular networks at play in the body. This multidisciplinary approach has been part of the foundation of the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), the Seattle research center that Hood helped start more than a decade ago to aid in transforming the way disease and biology are studied. And Hood's lab at ISB has helped explain complex neurological ailments, for example, by monitoring the expression of genes during certain points in the progression of disease in mice.
Nowadays, Hood talks about one of his latest visions for personalized medicine: a data cloud for every person that contains billions of data points and lead to simple insights about a person's health. Part of Hood's P4 Medicine plan, the personal health clouds would benefit from digital genome data on individuals as well as computational infrastructures to support analyses of genomic and other info related to a patient's health. Some of these elements are a work in progress.
Hood's group has been at work on computational tools that can do comparative analyses on vast numbers of sequenced genomes and look at other factors impacting a patient's health to divine valuable insights. They are also marching ahead with technology that can allow blood tests to capture proteins that shed light on a patient's health status and allow doctors to intervene early if necessary. Add P4 Medicine to Hood's other founding endeavors, which include more than 14 biotech outfits, including Amgen ($AMGN), Applied Biosystems, Darwin, The Accelerator and Integrated Diagnostics.