Day three of FutureMed began with a session on the Future of Intervention and a talk by Intuitive Surgical’s Dr. Catherine Mohr. She spoke at FutureMed earlier this year (where we were able to interview her) and repeated her message that even though robotic surgery is sleek, we have not yet reached the zenith of where intervention should go since we still have to make incisions. Her vision is for a future where surgery will be unnecessary, or at least made even less invasive.
Next up was Stanford’s Dr. Peter Fitzgerald who echoed his remarks from earlier this year by speaking optimistically about the “trillion dollar disruption” of health care. Next, we were treated to an engaging talk by University of Washington’s Dr. Richard Satava, a surgeon who helped develop the first surgical robot and virtual reality surgical simulators. The last talk was by Medgadget editor and co-founder of Omada Health, Sean Duffy, who gave an update on his rapidly growing preventative health tech company.
Session nine on the Future of Pharma featured two talks, one by the co-founder and president of Medidata Solutions, Glen de Vries, and the second by high school student and winner of the 2013 Google Science Fair, Eric Chen.
de Vries, who led a thoughtful workshop on patient engagement later in the day, presented an interesting yet simple equation for what he views as the future of pharma. Drugs provide a baseline therapeutic value (x), though we will increasingly need to add engaged therapeutic value (y), which can be delivered through effective lifestyle change. Thus the future of pharma is x + y.
Next up was seventeen-year Eric Chen who was missing school to present at FutureMed. He spoke about his research on identifying novel endonuclease inhibitor targets for treating influenza. His approach narrowed down 1-2 million potential targets to 237 candidates, six of which were without toxicity and may be productively explored as therapeutics.
His was the only talk we saw to receive a standing ovation, showing FutureMed’s support of future scientists.
The next session on the Future of Global Health also featured only two speakers: the recent CMO of GE’s Healthymagination, Dr. Lisa Kennedy, and the founding CEO of InSTEDD, Dr. Eric Rasmussen, who gave a great talk at FutureMed earlier this year. Kennedy’s talk focused on the future of affordability in global health care. She delved into the issues surrounding our distorted health care system, where costs are not transparent and patients are not engaged. Rasmussen’s talk turned our focus to the challenges of healthcare beyond the US with anecdotes from the Russian heat wave to the challenges of clean drinking water in India to the compound crises in Tajikistan.
Session eleven was on NeuroMedTech and began with a talk by Dr. Ajay Verma, the VP of translational neurology at Biogen Idec. He gave a fantastic overview of the tools we are using to measure the brain, ranging from MRI to EEG to SPECT, followed by the tools to manipulate the brain, such as optogenetics. He then spoke about some of the key challenges in neuroscience and how they are currently being addressed. First, he described the Holy Grail of neuroscience as the complete wiring diagram of the brain, which is being tackled by the Human Connectome Project. A second challenge he mentioned, described as the “Greatest Calamity Our Species Has Faced,” is the rise of neurodegenerative diseases. An interesting class of clinical trials to address this is known as RTM, or Reverse Translational Medicine, in which drugs are developed from the biologics of healthy elderly people who have, for example, antibodies to amyloid, among other molecules.
Next up was Ariel Garten, the founder and CEO of Interaxon which produces a consumer-focused EEG headband called Muse. She demonstrated the product on-stage and opened the minds (pun intended) of the attendees to the consumerization of neuro-technologies like hers.
There are a number of such headbands, ranging from Emotiv to Neurosky to Zeo to Melon to Interaxon, and their potential for medical and consumer use is only now starting to be realized.
The second-to-last session of the day began with Dan Kraft, who gave a talk on regenerative medicine and stem cells. As always he gave a great, fast-paced overview of these fields and touched upon everything from organ printing to cancer stem cells. He cut through the hype and made sure to present evidence supporting the promise of stem cell therapies for blood disorders, heart failure, and even tracheal transplants.
Following Dr. Kraft was Dr. Robert Hariri, the CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, who delved into the next frontier and a new opportunity for biotechnology: stem cells. After a review of the basic science of stem cells, he focused on how Celgene transforms stem cells into a commercially successful, clinical deliverable. Celgene focuses on the application of placental stem cells applied to a range of systemic and local injectable programs to treat autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as stroke.
The last session was on the Future of Clinical Practice. First up was Dr. Dan Riskin, the CEO of Health Fidelity which aims to apply machine learning to health care. He gave an interesting animated presentation describing his path into bioinformatics and a vision for how Big Data can be applied to the clinical workflow.
For example, he predicted the end of randomized controlled trials in the coming decades since they are too expensive and don’t reflect uncommon conditions.
The final speaker was Dr. Bill Crounse, the senior director for Microsoft World Wide Health, who gave an engaging talk that began with his personal anecdotes starting a telemedicine company pre-2000 and being two decades too early. He believes the timing is right now and gave a few examples including Kinect for telemonitoring and Mobisante’s smartphone-ultrasound (which has its roots in Microsoft). His final point was “Don’t be afraid of the alligators,” meaning, don’t let fear of the unknown stop you from trying to accomplish something, especially in health care.
Another day, another series of thoughtful talks at FutureMed!
Editor’s note: Reporting contributed by Michael Batista, Ph.D. Candidate at Johns Hopkins University
Link: FutureMed homepage…