J. Davis, Global Solutions Executive, Healthcare
IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences
Why do many experts believe we stand at the verge of a profound transformation in healthcare and life sciences? One of the central reasons is that over the last decades, both disciplines have become information-based sciences.
More important, these disciplines are now becoming globally-networked, data-driven sciences.
In the life sciences, we now have the fundamental building blocks to understand disease at the molecular level - genomics, proteomics, etc. In clinical care, we are increasingly capturing more data that can help change how medicine is practiced, in every dimension. All of these information systems will become more powerful as we move towards the President’s vision of a richly connected, national health information infrastructure.
Just as the Web redefined the power of individual computers and small, local-area networks, wiring healthcare and life sciences into a fully interoperable network will enable many aspects of these already information-intensive disciplines to achieve profound new breakthroughs: new ways for medicines to be discovered and tested, and new abilities for doctors and hospitals to provide patients with care personalized to their individual biologies and genetic profiles.
(With respect to the this last point, I'm proud to be IBM's representative on the Personalized Medicine Coalition's board of directors.)
As the community continues to invest in standards-based, information systems to capture, annotate, integrate and share this wealth of information, we are approaching a tipping point where molecular medicine can fundamentally change healthcare - not just through new treatments and interventions - but also by creating disruptive business models and reconfiguring the economics of healthcare.
In my group at IBM, we've focused a lot of attention in recent years on biobanking - not because we think collecting biospecimens is in itself particularly important, but because biobanks create the infrastructure for collecting well-annotated clinical information. They also provide the biological materials for generating the molecular information we need to unlock the mysteries of disease.
In fact we recently teamed with FasterCures and other leaders in the field to launch BiobankCentral, a portal to bring the international biobanking community together to share best practices as well as educate the public on the importance of biobanks to advance clinical research.
Perhaps no disease area is poised to benefit from biobanks - and the information they produce - than cancer. The leadership at the National Cancer Institute has recognized this as a recent article entitled Banking on Tissues in AACR's new publication CR.
I hope you'll visit BioBank Central, and share some of your thoughts here on the promise and opportunties in biobanking and personalized medicine.