precision medicine


August 2016 with Nathan and Laura

It’s the end of summer and end of another month. Joining us to discuss the genomics headlines of August are Laura Hercher and Nathan Pearson.

A recent study demonstrating that breast cancer patients with low genomic risk may not need chemotherapy is just what precision medicine is all about, isn’t it? Theral and Laura think the study is a big deal. Nathan’s not so sure.

Nathan is convinced though that Eurocentric studies have implicit racism. Laura agrees, saying the lack of racial diversity in biological databases is a major weakness that we must face head on.

Also, the FDA issued a report supporting Oxitec’s GM mosquitos for use in Florida. Laura is on board with the science but warns about smugness on the part of the scientific community. And George Church’s lab released a reengineered e. coli. Nathan imagines a new genomic language of 2 letter codons.

A Precision Medicine Platform Comes of Age: Jonathan Hirsch, Syapse

Today’s show with Jonathan Hirsch, the President and co-founder of Syapse begins a couple years ago. We first featured him on the program in January of 2014 with the headline, Is this the Omics-to-Clinic Site We’ve All Been Waiting For?

It turns out, in many respects it is. Syapse has had some big wins with some of the more progressive healthcare companies in the U.S., including Intermountain and Stanford. This year Syapse announced the creation of the Oncology Precision Network for data sharing in cancer care among several major institutions. The company even got a shout out from Vice President Biden in one of the recent White House confabs.

Over the years we’ve featured various bioinformatics and clinical informatics companies who had the aim of bringing omics data to the clinic. Syapse is emerging as a leader in that field demonstrating strong traction, particularly in cancer care. Today Jonathan explains the company’s Precision Medicine Platform, on top of which sits their oncology application.  He gives an example of just how this platform is changing cancer care at Intermountain in St. George, Utah, a small town with some big expertise.

And has the Veep’s Cancer Moonshot been changing things up?

“Everyone focuses on the money, but it’s not about the money,” Jonathan says. "It’s about how you use the power of the presidency to knock heads together and bring people together in collaborative relationships that they might otherwise not have entered. We’ve seen a measurable change in attitudes around clinical data sharing from this initiative."

Gene and Tonic, July 8, 2016: 49ers Going into Genetic Testing

Just two years at their new home in Silicon Valley and not far down the road from 23andMe, the San Francisco 49ers are offering their fans genetic testing and the chance to donate blood to advance human genome research.

Announcing a partnership with the company ORIG3N, the 49er Chief Operating Officer, Ethan Casson, says that “this is the first agreement of its kind where a major sports organization can give back to the human genome some of what the genome has given to professional football players.”

Medicine and the Limits of Science with Michel Accad, MD

Are drug prices really too high? If so, how do we bring them down? Is precision medicine and the use of molecular profiles really making a difference in healthcare today?

These are questions that regularly haunt our industry and the journalists who cover it. But there will be no answers until we face the grand question of all, what today's guest calls the most nagging question in medicine: What is health?

Today we begin a new series focused on just this question.

When I came across Michel Accad’s recent blog, Why I Don’t Believe in Science, of course it provoked me to click. Either he would be a terrible nutcase, in which case I'd lose the time it takes to discover this, or it might turn out to be one of those disturbing points of the day when we have to actually do some thinking. What I found was a cardiologist based in San Francisco who was doing some deep philosophical thinking about medicine today. And, obviously, one savvy enough to get some click through. It turns out Michel does believe in science, but he doesn’t share the pervasive view that medicine is a continuum of science.

What are his thoughts about precision medicine? What is his definition of health?

We always jump at the chance to have a medical doctor on the program, and a doctor who is also a philosopher is a double treat. Today's interview takes us down a different path than our typical shows, and we'd like to invite the audience to send us your feedback by clicking here.

February 2016: Mosquitos, Preprints, and that Rocking White House Summit

It’s time again to look back on another month with Nathan and Laura.

Framingham for the Modern Era: Josie Briggs on the Precision Medicine Initiative

Josie Briggs is Director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) at the NIH. She is also currently serving as interim director of the president’s new Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI).

What has happened since the president announced the initiative, what is the proposed timeline going forward, and how much money will there be for the project ongoing?

Josie answers these questions and more in today’s show, comparing the PMI to the well known Framingham Heart Study, probably the nation’s greatest longitudinal study to date. As with the Framingham study, the NIH is hoping that the PMI will engage the general public in biomedical research.

“Having the interest of the public in clinical research, and having people sign up and be engaged and say that they want to be a part of this is, to me, a very important component. In some disease areas, it’s striking how few people participate in clinical research. This is — and the president’s enthusiasm is part of it — this is a way for there to be broader engagement in clinical research,” says Josie.

Defending the Value of Biotech Innovation in California: Sara Radcliffe, CLSA

Earlier this year, the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) launched, becoming the first statewide policy and advocacy group for biotech. The new nonprofit, a merger between BayBio and the California Healthcare Institute, is led by CEO Sara Radcliffe, former Executive VP of Health at the international Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington.

Sara steps into this new role at a time when biotech is booming in the state and in the nation. Yet she will face some difficult challenges ahead:  drug prices are going through the stratosphere,  drawing increasing ire from the general public and state and national goverments while diagnostic test makers see their often patchy reimbursement being further reduced.  Facing a new statewide ballot initiative that aims to fix drug pricing and an upcoming drug cost transparency bill scheduled for the next legislative session, how will Sara defend CLSA members, such as Gilead and Celgene, who are charging ever higher drug prices? And what will she do for a promising yet underpaid diagnostics industry?

Welcome to California, Sara.  How does she like the Bay Area so far?   “It’s a much more laid back environment,” she says at the end of the interview. "Washington can be quite a staid environment. So I’m enjoying the entrepreneurial atmosphere."

 

 

Woodstock for Genomics? Richard Lumb and Carl Smith on this Month’s Festival

If you haven’t already, check out the inaugural Festival of Genomics being held in Boston later this month.

Billed as “a rigorous, fun, and transformational forum,” the unusual get-together will feature the who’s who on the genomics speaking circuit, including Craig Venter, George Church, and Eric Green. Based more on a music festival than a science conference, the Festival of Genomics offers a chance for folks from all around the genomics community to perhaps connect in a new way. And did I mention the disruptive price? Tickets are going for as low as $150 to enable more diverse attendance.

Who is this new media company, Front Line Genomics, that is producing the show? And what is their goal?

We talk to CEO, Richard Lumb, and Managing Editor, Carl Smith about the new company, the first festival, and their overall vision.

“We’d love the festival to be something that people genuinely look forward to and think: ah great, time to get out of the office and have some fun, meet old friends and see what new exciting research and new opportunities are out there,” says Carl in today’s show.

The Festival of Genomics takes place at the Boston Convention Center, June 22-24.

 

The Genomics Grinch

One of the handy tools a journalist can use is a sharp pin.  It’s quite helpful when encountering over inflated balloons, such as the politican’s ego,  a financial bubble, or the hype around going to war.   When the pin is used at the right time, and on the right target, there is no question that the resulting “pop” is heard by everyone.  



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