Daphne Koller is the CEO and Founder of insitro, a startup company that aims to rethink drug development using machine learning. She is also the Co-Chair of the Board and Co-Founder of Coursera, the largest platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). Daphne was the Rajeev Motwani Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where she served on the faculty for 18 years. She has also been the Chief Computing Officer of Calico, an Alphabet company in the healthcare space. Read her full bio.

Interview with Daphne Koller of Insitro

Q: What need is Insitro addressing?

A: Despite the marvels and triumphs of modern medicine many diseases remain untreatable. And the development of novel therapeutics to address these conditions isn’t getting any easier or cheaper, with clinical trial success rates hovering in the single-digits and the capitalized R&D spend per approved drug estimated at $2.5B. At insitro we are setting out to rethink drug discovery and development, leveraging recent advances across computer science, molecular biology, and automation to develop better and cheaper therapeutics in less time.

Q: What are the products and/or services Insitro offers/develops to address this need? What makes Insitro unique?

A: Insitro is a therapeutics company – ultimately if successful we will develop medicines that enable patients to live longer and more fulfilling lives. We are unique in two main respects. First, we are building an interdisciplinary organization from the ground up, based on the fundamental principle that by creating an integrated team of biologists, chemists, technologists, and computational scientists who speak each other’s language we can do far more than any group can do on their own. Second, we are investing heavily in data generation and the ability to generate data – effectively building a factory with the express purpose of producing data on which to do machine learning. Machine learning models are only as powerful as the data they are trained on – by generating datasets explicitly designed for machine learning and using the subsequent analysis to drive the next round of data generation we are closing the loop between in silico and in vitro methods.

Q: What is your role at Insitro and what excites you about your work?

A: I am the Founder and CEO of insitro. So much excites me about my work. I get to build a forward looking organization hiring and working beside incredibly talented people while delving into the complexities of biology, helping solve challenging machine learning problems, and designing novel systems to automate and standardize state-of-the-art biological experimentation. And in the end we are doing all of this in order to help patients and make the world a better place. What’s not exciting about that?

Q: When thinking about Insitro and the domain Insitro is working in, what are some of the recent breakthroughs that are propelling the field forward and how will they impact healthcare?

A: I believe we are at the beginning of a new scientific epoch resulting from the intertwining of data science and biology. This is driven by a range of advances across molecular biology and technology, including gene-editing, single-cell sequencing, automation, microfluidics, and advanced microscopy, paired with the enormous recent advances in machine learning and high-performance computing. Machine learning is solving a range of problems that I, as a machine learning researcher for 25 years, didn’t think would happen in my lifetime including human-level image captioning and language translation. While the advances across these two disciplines are each powerful on their own, it’s their synthesis that will allow us to gain new insights into underlying disease processes and ultimately create novel medicines that benefit patients.

Q: What are the short-term challenges that insitro and its peers are facing?

A: First, we face the challenge of being on the cutting edge of science – human biology is incredibly complicated. Building science-based companies is exciting but requires bringing a lot of pieces together. We are pushing boundaries in each of several disciplines and it’s a challenge to walk the line of innovation while also making sure we can scale what we’re doing. We’re also facing the challenge of finding and hiring the right people. There are a limited – but luckily growing – number of people that speak both machine learning and biology. Identifying and attracting them is critical to the success of any organization looking to operate at the intersection of the two. Finally, it is key to build the right culture: one where people trained in very different languages work effectively together as a single team, so that the whole of the organization is considerably bigger than the sum of its part.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with the PMWC audience?

A: This is an incredibly exciting time to be at the interface of biology and machine learning – we are really just at the beginning.

Interview with Lingbing Zhang of Yinuoke Ltd

Q: The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: Although I don’t have first-hand experience with those new drugs, several of my friends asked me for suggestions because they know I have been studying cancer immunotherapy for 15 years.

Read More

Interview with Anton Iliuk of Tymora Analytical Operations

Q: What need is Tymora Analytical Operations addressing?

A: Virtually all of the current liquid biopsy assays are based on genomic information. But the active molecules in the body that are doing the work and undergoing changes during disease progression are actually proteins.

Read More

Interview with Pamela Munster of UCSF

Q: The Nobel Price in Medicine was awarded recently to James Allison and Tasuku for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options. The Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.” What is your first-hand experience the impact that those new drugs had on patients?

A: Immunotherapy has completely changed the lives of many patients with melanoma, lung cancer and other type of cancers with tumors that have historically been difficult to treat.

Read More

Interview with Stephane Budel, Partner of DeciBio Consulting

Q: NGS is enhancing patient care through improved diagnostic sensitivity and more precise therapeutic targeting. Prominent examples include cystic fibrosis and cancer. What other clinical areas NGS will most likely to change the standard-of-care in the near future?

A: NGS has most drastically impacted the standard of care in non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and oncology.

Read More

Note from Dr. Kim Blackwell, PMWC 2019 SV Immunotherapy Track Chair to PMWC Admin

Hi PMWC, The Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded on October 1st to Dr. James Allison (MD Anderson) and Dr. Tasuku Honjo (Kyoto University) for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options.

Read More

Interview with Bastian Greshake Tzovaras of Open Humans

Q: Patient healthcare data aggregation and analysis is seen as both the panacea for tremendous breakthroughs in precision medicine and as one of its biggest challenges. Are both true and how so?

A: The promises and challenges around personal health data aggregation are two sides of the same coin: There is definitely a lot of potential in the aggregating all these data, especially as we are now collecting so much data about ourselves.

Read More

Interview with Feng Zhang, PMWC 2019 Honoree- Neurobiologist Who Led the Development of Optogenetics and CRISPR

Q: What research are you or your lab focusing on and why, and what problem(s) are you trying to solve?

A: Our overall driving goal is to improve human health, and we do this largely through the development of new tools to study basic biology and the discovery of novel therapeutic approaches to treating human diseases.

Read More

Interview with Clifford Reid of Travera

Q: What need is Travera addressing?

A: The cancer community is suffering from a lack of biomarkers that match drugs to patients. The NCI-MATCH study reported in 2016 that fewer than 10% of cancer patients could be matched to a therapy.

Read More

Interview with Michael Abramoff of IDx

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: There will always be a need for human physicians, if only for the often raised issue of the need for human interaction.

Read More

Interview with Carl June, University of Pennsylvania, PMWC 2019 Honoree: The Driving Force Behind The First FDA Approved Gene Therapy – Kymriah

Q: The track theme is on the topic “How do we accelerate and deliver on the promise of cancer immunotherapy?” What are some key promises regarding immune-oncology, that we can build upon and translate into reality and how can we expedite delivery?

A: The use of the immune system to fight cancer holds a promise as a general solution to cancer therapy.

Read More

Questions for Sharon Terry, Genetic Alliance- PMWC 2019 Honoree

Q: You are the CEO of Genetic Alliance. What is your role as the CEO and why is this organization so important?

A: I actually try to avoid formal roles as CEO; instead, I practice showing up fully for our community: our staff and all of the organizations under our umbrella. I strive to hold the space for others to be fully themselves and meet their full potential.

Read More

Q&A with Itai Kela of Israel Innovation Authority

Q: Israel is known as a leader in hi-tech innovation. Can you tell us about some of the breakthrough companies in digital health and precision medicine?

A: The Israeli life sciences industry continues to grow and improve its global position. Israeli entrepreneurs’ ability to take advantage of the excellence in academic research, wide government support and innovative ecosystem, contributes to the industry’s success.

Read More

A Traverse of the Elements of AI/Machine Learning Across Healthcare

AI and machine learning are poised to create a paradigm-shift in many areas of the healthcare sector. A recent Accenture report predicted that the AI/Machine Learning healthcare market could see an ELEVEN-FOLD INCREASE in value in less than a decade

Read More

Jessica Mega of Verily Discusses AI in Healthcare

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: In addition to the science, the art of medical practice is a critical dimension of patient care and that part of the human experience can’t easily be replaced by AI.

Read More

Interview Questions For Gertjan Bartlema of Celularity, Inc.

Q: Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques have sent vast waves across healthcare, even fueling an active discussion of whether AI doctors will eventually replace human physicians in the future. Do you believe that human physicians will be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future? What are your thoughts?

A: In my opinion, physicians will not be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future.

Read More
Johns Hopkins
University Of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), in its 16th installment, will take place in the Santa Clara Convention Center (Silicon Valley) on January 20-23, 2019. The program will traverse innovative technologies, thriving initiatives, and clinical case studies that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care. Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the latest developments and advancements in precision medicine and cutting-edge new strategies and solutions that are changing how patients are treated.

Agenda highlights:

  • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • AI & Data Science Showcase
    • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
    • Clinical Dx Showcase
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Emerging Technologies in PM
    • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Gene Editing
    • Genomic Profiling Showcase
    • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Microbial Profiling Showcase
    • Microbiome
    • Neoantigens
    • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • Precision Public Health
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Resilience
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Wellness and Aging Showcase

Agenda highlights:

    • Five tracks will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • AI & Data Science Showcase
      • Clinical & Research Tools Showcase
      • Clinical Dx Showcase
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Emerging Technologies in PM
      • Emerging Therapeutic Showcase
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Gene Editing / CRISPR
      • Genomic Profiling Showcase
      • Immunotherapy Sessions & Showcase
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Microbial Profiling Showcase
      • Microbiome
      • Neoantigens
      • Next-Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Non-Clinical Services Showcase
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • Precision Public Health
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Resilience
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Wellness and Aging Showcase
  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 2000+ multidisciplinary attendees, from across the entire spectrum of healthcare, representing different types of companies, technologies, and medical centers with leadership roles in precision medicine
Get Updates
Sign up for occasional updates on upcoming conferences, news, and other information.
We respect your privacy and will never share your email with anyone.
Something went wrong, please verify your input.
Thank you for signing up!
pmwc-newsletter-img

Don't Miss Important Precision Medicine Updates

PMWC is the most comprehensive precision medicine conference. To receive the lastest news and updates from the field, subscribe to the newsletter here.

You have Successfully Subscribed!