Tech crowd hears about precision medicine

It was a big day for UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and other local medical science leaders at GeekWire Summit 2018, a Seattle present-meets-future technology conference.

GeekWire Summit 2018 is a technology conference held this week at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.  The immersive,high-tech gathering brings together more than 900 inventors and developers, experts, entrepreneurs and business executives to explore the innovation economy

This year the summit featured a health technology track that attracted a full house.

Speakers on a precision medicine panel moderated by Corey Schmid of Seven Peak Ventures included  Dr. Elizabeth Krakow, a transplant therapy specialist who has adapted artificial intelligence methods in her research at Fred Hutch; Heidi Hagen from Vineti Inc., a company that is scaling and digitizing cell and gene therapies, and Jay Shendure, professor of genome sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Shendure is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as director of the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine.

Shendure told the audience of tech enthusiasts about several developments at UW Medicine. Among them:

*The Northwest Genomics Center at the University of Washington in Seattle will become one of three genome centers around the country for the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program. 

*UW Medicine researchers analyzed the effects of nearly 4,000 mutations deliberately engineered into the BRCA1 gene to help people who are undergoing genetic testing for breast or ovarian cancer risk.

*The Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine, launched last December, has attracted many investigators with diverse areas of expertise from UW Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s,  They are working together in basic research to personalize disease prevention, screening and treatment  for individuals and for population and public health efforts .

"It's been a very successful launch. In a few months, we've had more than 200 faculty sign up to be part of this," Shendure said during his presentation.

Krakow mentioned the complexity of precision medicine. She explained that treating each individual patient is more complicated than honing in on one genetic mutation

The panel discussed a number of other related topics, and the subject of health care access for all came up. Shendure said that researchers should  focus not just on on personalized medicine for individuals, but also for populations.  He called for “precision population health and precision public health.”

“There’s an opportunity here to think about precision medicine more broadly” than just individual patient care, Shendure told the crowd. “Many of the same concepts can potentially be applied to the low-cost interventions that we know are effective.”

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