To tease out disease patterns, particularly for cancers, Mount Sinai's Eric Schadt tells Wired that data from many individuals is required — the more data, the more accurate any models are.
But as Wired notes, data gathering takes some finesse as people want to be assured of their privacy and that their health and genetic information will be shared among researchers, rather than kept to seek a profit. Plus, the scale of the amount of data needed has yet to be reached.
To try to achieve this, Schadt has started a genetic data company called Sema4 through which he plans to acquire genetic testing companies and build up a database of millions of genomes, Wired reports. It adds that the database is to be searchable by physicians to help them diagnose patients — it's to be free for academic medical centers and nonprofit researchers — and that pharmaceutical companies would pay for access to find patients for clinical trials.
"Can we do better for human well-being if information is more broadly accessible, where you're leveraging the mindshare of the entire planet to evolve the models of disease?" Schadt says at Wired. "Absolutely."