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9th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2008

Leroy Hood, Institute for Systems Biology, USA

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Leroy Hood>

Biography

Dr. Hood's research has focused on the study of molecular immunology, biotechnology, and genomics. His professional career began at Caltech where he and his colleagues pioneered four instruments - the DNA gene sequencer and synthesizer, and the protein synthesizer and sequencer - which comprise the technological foundation for contemporary molecular biology. In particular, the DNA sequencer has revolutionised genomics by allowing the rapid automated sequencing of DNA, which played a crucial role in contributing to the successful mapping of the human genome during the 1990s. In 1992, Dr. Hood moved to the University of Washington as founder and Chairman of the cross-disciplinary Department of Molecular Biotechnology. In 2000, he co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington to pioneer systems approaches to biology and medicine.

Most recently, Dr. Hood was elected to the Inventors Hall of Fame for the automated DNA sequencer. In addition, his lifelong contributions to biotechnology have earned him the 2006 Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment for his extraordinary breakthroughs in biomedical science at the genetic level; the prestigious 2004 Biotechnology Heritage Award; the esteemed 2003 Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics; and the 2003 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Innovation and Invention. He was also awarded the 2002 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology, and the 1987 Lasker Prize for his studies on the mechanism of immune diversity. He has published more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, received 14 patents, and has co-authored textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, and genetics.

Dr. Hood is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Association of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering. He is one of seven (of more than 6,000 members) scientists elected to all three academies (NAS, NAE and IOM). Dr. Hood has also played a role in founding more than 14 biotechnology companies, including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Systemix, Darwin and Rosetta. He is currently pioneering systems medicine and the systems approach to disease.

Abstract

Systems medicine, the emergence of predictive, personalised, preventive and participatory (P4) medicine and the impact of P4 medicine on society

The challenge for biology in the 21st century is the need to deal with its incredible complexity. One powerful way to think of biology is to view it as an informational science. This view leads to the conclusion that biological information is captured, mined, integrated and finally executed by biological networks. Hence the challenge in understanding biological complexity is that of deciphering the operation of dynamic biological networks across the three time scales of life - evolution, development and physiological responses. Systems approaches to biology are focused on delineating and deciphering dynamic biological networks and their interactions with simple and complex molecular machines.

I will focus on our efforts at a systems approach to disease - looking at prion disease and cancer. I will also discuss the emerging technologies (measurement and visualisation) that will transform medicine over the next 10 years. It appears that systems medicine, together with pioneering changes in DNA sequencing (Next Gen sequencing) and blood protein measurements (nanotechnology) as well as the development of powerful new computational and mathematical tools will transform medicine over the next 5-20 years from its currently reactive state to a mode that is predictive, personalised, preventive and participatory (P4). This will in turn lead to the digitalisation of medicine - with ultimately a profound decrease in the cost of healthcare. It will also transform the business strategies for virtually every sector of the health care industry.

These considerations have led ISB to begin formulating a series of national and international strategic partnerships that are focused on making P4 medicine a reality. I will discuss some of these strategic partnerships and the implications arising from the globalisation of science.