Genetics and Computing: The Drivers of Systems Biology, Molecular Medicine and eHealth
Dr. George Poste
Director, The Biodesign Institute
Arizona State University
Genomics and computing are the principal technological engines reshaping medical research and clinical care. They are transforming biology and medicine from descriptive, empirical disciplines into mechanistic, information-based sciences. This transition is imposing radical change on the R&D process for drugs, diagnostics and vaccines. It is also launching a new era of molecular medicine founded on a sophisticated comprehension of the molecular pathology of diseases and its application to the creation of increasingly rational strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of disease and, longer term, disease prediction and prevention. These trends are only in their infancy. Full realization of these opportunities will demand construction of large scale databases and novel data mining technologies to elucidate the fundamental design principles in biological systems, to establish how genetic programs direct the construction of higher order biological assemblies and to create robust algorithms for human population genetics and individual risk profiling for multigenic disorders. The daunting scale and capital investment to build the required networks, combined with perplexing ethical and legal issues related to privacy, confidentiality and societal expectations and fears, will impose unprecedented demands on the investment, research, medical and legislative communities.
The evolution of large scale medical informatics and the Internet-based health services will also produce profound changes in clinical practice and medical education, increase the importance of the consumer in healthcare decisions and cause major dislocations in the healthcare value chain.