Leroy Hood’s Institute Gains Momentum, Nine Years After Starting with “Crazy” Idea

2/13/09Follow @xconomy

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have largely resisted the new approach, although the next tier down is showing interest, out of motivation to be leaders in the future, Hood says.

—On education: “Kids are much more malleable than adults. Adults can be intractable.” Hood said he is having talks with Hollywood producers to help think of ways to open the minds of many adults to the wonders of science.

—On information technology demands of the genome era: “In 10 years, we’re going to have billions of data points on each of you. The question is how do we develop IT to handle it all?” He said he’s had conversations with Bill Gates about this question, although they haven’t come to an agreement on the best way to tackle the problem.

—On advancements in diagnostics: He says he and collaborator Jim Heath of Caltech are working on a way to make diagnostic tests that are more reliable than existing antibody-based tests, and more stable. “You can put these reagents in the trunk of your car in Pasadena and leave them there all summer, take them out in the fall, and they’ll still work fine,” he says. These tests will be able to pick up minor disturbances in gene networks that sometimes occur after patients take a drug, like Pfizer’s atorvastatin (Lipitor), which could tell patients when to quit taking the drug, he says.

—On management. “When you have a fundamental paradigm change, the question is can you ever realize it in an existing organization?” Hood says. “Rarely, unless you have an exceptional organizational structure.” Later on in the talk, he repeated one of his favorite mantras. “New ideas need new organizational structures.”

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