SAVANNAH, GA, Sept. 23 (GenomeWeb News) - It was a call to genome scientists from one of their most interested followers: a physician.
Ralph Snyderman, CEO and president of the Duke University Health System, opened up day two of the GSAC conference yesterday by urging scientists to help revolutionize what he branded "a very cumbersome, backward-looking healthcare system."
"We are now sitting on the edge of a great tsunami of biomedical research," Snyderman said to a room full of people responsible for much of that tsunami. In the coming century, he predicted, the key factors affecting medicine will include genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, medical technologies, and informatics.
The revolution Snyderman hopes to see means a shift away from reactive, "fix it" medicine and toward proactive, prospective medicine, where healthcare would begin with personalized risk assessments for all patients. Using biomarkers, genomic data, and clinical information, a physician would be able to provide each individual with an understanding of which chronic diseases (such as cancer, coronary disease, or diabetes) he or she has a particular susceptibility for - with, of course, the knowledge that a genetic predisposition is also tempered by environmental and lifestyle factors, Snyderman said. Patient and doctor would work together on a lifestyle and healthcare plan - covering possible therapeutics or procedural treatments - to help prevent the diseases.
Despite early pilot studies at places like Duke, Snyderman acknowledged that getting to the risk assessment stage would be no small feat. In addition to a complete mentality shift, he said, prospective medicine will need improved informatics, a literature-mining panel, and scads more research.
Chronic diseases play such a huge role in current healthcare costs, Snyderman said, that his own estimates indicate as much as 50 percent of the current $1.5 trillion US medical expenses are wasted on things that could be prevented if handled better.
Addressing attendees, Snyderman said, "With the power of what you're doing in genomics, I believe we have the power to change healthcare in the next [10 years]."