In a recent article in The Atlantic, David Shaywitz suggests that all medical knowledge should be aggregated into one big database — "a 'big data' project that would collect in one searchable repository all of the parameters that measure or could conceivably reflect human well-being." This would include information on patients ranging from genomic data to details on their microbiome to family history and a record of their medications. Such data would be a boon to physicians, helping them optimize the way they treat their patients, and the data could be used by researchers to find new drug targets, Shaywitz says.
In a new column in Forbes, Shaywitz says biopharma companies might want to try something similar. Many large pharmaceutical companies have outsourced their data analytics, instead doing it themselves, Shaywitz says. "I then ask whether this is savvy judgment or a profound miscalculation," he says, adding that "the question of core competencies is more than just semantics — it is perhaps the most important strategic question facing biopharma companies as they peer into a frightening and uncertain future." Big pharma, Shaywitz says, needs to deal with the large amounts of data it generates itself, especially as the traditional approach to pharmaceutical innovation doesn't seem to be working that well anymore.