‘Breakthrough’ in Quantified Health Sets Stage for Innovation Summit

3/22/12Follow @bvbigelow

It’s not often when a big local conference intersects with an important scientific breakthrough. It’s exciting when it happens. Attendees can feel that low-volt current of excitement that comes with realizing they are witnessing the dawning of a whole new industry. Maybe they’ll even become part of the lore around an event that becomes known as something like “the Woodstock of Physics” or a “Netscape Moment.”

Such an event might well be happening next Thursday, March 29, at “The Rock Stars of Innovation Summit.” Connect, the San Diego non-profit group, has pulled together all the necessary ingredients, with help from Xconomy, in organizing the summit. In this case, we’ve recruited three of San Diego’s most-prominent leaders in IT, personalized medicine, and genomics to discuss “quantified health”—just as a prominent scientific journal published research that has triggered a wave of interest in the newly emerging field.

Larry Smarr

Larry Smarr, director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), calls the research published in the March 16 issue of Cell “a HUGE breakthrough.” By seeming coincidence, Smarr is set to explain why quantified health is so significant in a session with Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, and John Reed, a cancer scientist and CEO of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in downtown San Diego next Thursday during “The Rock Stars of Innovation Summit.” Guiding their discussion (and offering his own perspective as a venture investor) will be Amir Nashat, a general partner in the Boston-area office of Polaris Venture Partners.

(More information about the summit, including the speakers, agenda, and online registration, is available here.)

In a capricious accident of timing, the paper published last week in Cell describes how a group of Stanford University researchers drew blood samples over a 14-month period from a team leader, molecular geneticist Michael Snyder, and charted the links between Snyder’s genome and more than 3 billion discrete biomarkers. In sequencing all 6 billion bases of Snyder’s genome, the team determined that he was genetically at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. And in tracking changes in billions of his biomarkers for more than a year, they spotted an unexpected spike in his glucose levels—a signal that prompted Snyder to change his diet and increase his exercise in a successful effort to reverse his slide into full-blown diabetes.

The Stanford paper already has attracted attention. A headline in Science magazine’s online “Science Now” website reads: “Examining His … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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