Hood predicts US healthcare spending will drop in the coming years as genome sequencing becomes routine for hospital patients and big data leads to advancements in disease prevention
Systems biology is a field of scientific research that has the potential to provide plenty of new biomarkers that could be used by clinical laboratories to detect disease earlier and with more accuracy and to guide physicians on how to treat disease. Now comes news of a unique collaboration designed to use knowledge of systems biology in ways that can advance clinical care.
The Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) recently teamed up with Providence Health & Services (Providence) to advance the mission of ISB’s President and co-founder Leroy Hood, MD, PhD, to transform healthcare through “Scientific Wellness.”
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers will want to note this new partnership. That’s because ISB’s end-goal is the pre-symptomatic diagnosis of disease using multiplex assays to pinpoint protein biomarkers that signal the presence of disease.
“Providence’s vast network of hospitals, outstanding clinicians, and the rich collection of data from the more than 3.3 million patients they serve, will help accelerate discovery of powerful insights into scientific wellness and disease,” declared Hood in a statement published on his company’s website. “Further, it will enable us for the first time ever to apply ISB-driven systems approaches for optimizing wellness and minimizing disease to patient care.”
Increasing Quality of Life through Pathology and Clinical Laboratory Medicine
In a news release announcing their affiliation, Providence Health & Services, a five-state not-for-profit health system, and Institute for Systems Biology, located in Seattle, announced they will establish a number of joint research projects in scientific wellness, including following and understanding early transitions from:
• Wellness to disease;
• Analyzing patient populations longitudinally that are at risk for Alzheimer’s;
• Helping breast cancer patients recover from illness following debilitating therapies; and
• Utilizing novel approaches to successfully treat glioblastoma, a potentially fatal type of brain tumor.
Leroy Hood helped pioneer the Human Genome Program by contributing to the development of automated DNA sequencers and other genomic instruments. In recent years, he spearheaded development of the “science of systems biology.” He also has been a catalyst in the growth of “Scientific Wellness.” This new industry focused on increasing longevity and quality of life. ISB’s affiliation with Providence is Hood’s latest move to advance both goals.
Hood will serve as Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer of Providence Health & Services while continuing as President of ISB.
“With [Leroy Hood’s] visionary leadership, ISB has transformed the global understanding of human diseases, and pioneered the emerging sector of scientific wellness,” said Rodney Hochman, MD, President and CEO of Providence Health & Services, in the statement. “Together, we will connect research and clinical expertise to shift healthcare delivery from a disease focus to a wellness focus.”
Ensuring Patients Meet Healthcare Goals and Minimize Risk of Disease
A world-renowned scientist, inventor, and visionary, Hood believes healthcare is on the precipice of historic change. An article in GeekWire, reported predictions Hood made during a speech at the Life Science Innovation Northwest Conference in Seattle in June.
• The $100 Genome: In the next six to eight years, Hood predicts the cost of sequencing a human genome will drop from the current $1,000 level to $100. “It’ll make it an utterly routine part of every hospital admission,” Hood stated.
• Scientific Wellness Will Trump Disease: Within the next decade, the market cap for healthcare ventures that are focused on scientific wellness will “far exceed” the dollars spent on disease.
• Healthcare Costs Will Drop: Hood believes scientific wellness will drive down the cost of healthcare in the United States, which currently accounts for more than 17% of the US gross domestic product. “P4 [Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory] medicine is going to turn that curve around … I would predict the data we’re getting is going to transform the healthcare industry,” Hood stated.
In 2015, Hood signaled ISB’s ability to move into the clinical realm with the launch of Arivale, a Seattle startup that provides a “scientific path to wellness” by combining cutting-edge genetic analysis with personalized coaching. The new company’s goal is ensuring clients meet their personal health goals and minimize long-term risks of disease.
In another GeekWire article, Hood predicted Arivale would spearhead the growth of personalized medicine. “I think it is going to be very big,” he stated. “Arivale is the opening shot in a whole new industry called scientific wellness, and it really stands a chance of being the Google or Microsoft of this whole arena.”
Systems biology and the emerging field of scientific wellness should be on the radar screen of all clinical laboratory managers and pathologists. The science supporting these new approaches to human health, wellness, and longevity, will generate many unique biomarkers that medical laboratories can put to good use to advance the capabilities of clinical diagnostic testing.
—Andrea Downing Peck