It’s not often that one of GQ’s Rock Stars of Science; the Chief Medical Editor for NBC News; the Chair of Europe’s largest academic health science partnership; a former Director of the NIH; the founder of the one the largest databases of individual genetic information; and a former President and CEO from Mayo Clinic are in a room discussing the latest and greatest in science and healthcare. But that’s exactly the type of people that HDR’s series of Translational Health Colloquia brings together.
It’s a completely unique and inspiring experience summed up best by Sir Cyril Chantler, the Chair of UCL Partners: “Spending a day with my friends, in a beautiful location, discussing my hobby is my idea of heaven.” The science nerd in me couldn’t agree more.
Before coming to HDR, I spent five years as a scientist, both as an analytical chemist at a big pharma company and as a neuroscience researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. I’ve listened to many academic and professional presentations, but I was blown away by the quality and complexity of content delivered in a simple and meaningful way by these thought leaders.
From Anne Wojcicki, the founder of 23&Me, to Dr. Denis Cortese (who I am convinced should run for president with the way he worked that room), the topics of conversation were both wide-ranging and powerful, with common messages and inspirations sprinkled throughout. Each were independently informative and thought provoking, and when coupled together, created an energy that left many like myself inspired to be a part of the change that is underway.
Throughout all of the presentations, three consistent themes emerged.
1. A change is necessary and it’s going to take some incredible innovation and leadership to do it well.
- "Opportunities exist but they require us to act and think differently. We must throw away all preconceived notions and embrace bold and courageous leadership." –Dr. Michael Johns, Chancellor and Exective Vice President for Health Affairs
- "Without innovation – this system won’t work." –Dr. Elias Zerhouni, President of Global Research & Development
2. Collaboration is essential for success.
- "We need a 'union of forces.'" –Dr. Denis Cortese, Foundation Professor, Arizona State University
- "The intent not to recreate but rather partner with existing collaborations." –Dr. Garry Neil, CEO, TransCelebrate BioPharma
3. The future is all about Personalized Medicine.
- "Gone are the days of being having healthcare being dished out the same to every person. Patients should not be treated like cattle." –Dr. Eric Topol, Chief Academic Officer, Scripps Health
- "Wouldn’t you want to know if a drug would or would not work to treat you? You own the right to your data and it can help tailor treatments specifically to you." –Ann Wojcicki, CEO and Co-founder, 23andMe
These three concepts really resonated with me as I have seen how critical each can be to the success of services not only in healthcare but in other industries as well. During any difficult transition such as the one healthcare is undergoing, innovation and leadership are essential tools to weather the storm. Imagine if your healthcare could mold its service after knowing your genetic makeup and medical needs! It was reassuring to sense that such leaders felt these concepts were also critical. There is a comfort to knowing our thoughts and work are on track.
By the end of the day, I could not have been more proud that this meeting of the minds had been organized by HDR—not a scientific institution, not a premier medical school, not the World Health Organization, but HDR. Thank you to those who put together this incredible event; I left informed and inspired to be a part of the catalyst for change. A transformation is coming in healthcare. Let’s get ready.