Responding to data trends is not a new to the practice of medicine. A quick Google search reminds us that the scientific method itself is defined as “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”
But the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York — along with several other major medical schools — is pushing the concept further. They’re turning directly to data science as a big part of the future of medicine and health care.
Mt. Sinai has recently added Jeffrey Hammbacher to their faculty. Hammerbacher is a number cruncher — a Harvard math major who went from a job as a Wall Street quant to a key role at Facebook to a founder of a successful data start-up. He was recruited by Eric Schadt, a computational biologist at Mt. Sinai who had concluded that medicine was ripe for a data-driven revolution.
Hammbacher leads a team whose objective is to alter how doctors treat patients someday. For example, Mount Sinai medical researchers have done promising work on personalized cancer treatments. It involves the genetic sequencing of a patient’s healthy cells and cancer tumor. Once the misbehaving gene cluster is identified and analyzed, it is targeted with tailored therapies, drugs or vaccines that stimulate the body’s defenses.
Mr. Hammerbacher’s team does not do the basic science. Other researchers do that. His group works on the “computational pipeline,” he said, with the goal of making personalized cancer treatments more automated and thus more affordable and practical. “It’s ultimately what cancer cures are going to look like,” he said. Read more…