Personalized Medicine

Drug targets for which there is human data (e.g., genetics) that links them to the disease are more likely to successfully complete clinical development and be approved as new drugs. However, the surmountable challenge of assembling large scale human cohorts has limited the collection of such data to national health organizations, and even these cohorts provide limited phenotyping and omics data due to the high cost of the tests.

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Big Data in Healthcare

Health data are increasingly being generated at a massive scale, at various levels of phenotyping and from different types of resources. We are using nationwide electronic health record data on millions of individuals from several countries, with the aim of developing machine learning algorithms for predicting future onset of disease, identifying causal drivers of disease, and unraveling personalized responses to drugs. We aim to understand health trajectories of different people, how they unfold along different pathways, how the past affects the present and future health, and the complex interactions between different determinants of health over time.

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Microbiome in Health and Disease

Another rich source of information with the potential to contain pertinent disease risk factor data is the human microbiome – the collective genome of trillions of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that reside in the human gastrointestinal tract. The microbiome contains 100-fold more genes than the human genome, and is considered a bona-fide ‘second genome’ with fundamental roles in multiple aspects of human physiology and health, including obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, inflammatory diseases, cancer, metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease, aging, and neurodegenerative disorders. As such, it should capture different aspects of disease than existing risk factors, and their combination can lead to earlier and more robust disease detection. However, very few microbiome-based markers predictive of disease onset and progression were found to date and none are currently used by healthcare systems. Thus, discovery of microbiome-based risk factors is a promising yet mostly unexplored research area.

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