Dr. Hong joined Karius after 14 years at Stanford University, where he was Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. He also served as chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the Stanford-affiliated Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. His prior studies in respiratory virus infections in children focused on host–pathogen interactions and novel adjuvants for respiratory virus vaccines. Read his full bio.

Interview with David Hong from Karius

Q: What need is Karius addressing?
A: Physicians often have difficulty pinpointing the exact pathogen that is causing disease. Conventional diagnostics like blood cultures or PCR can have poor sensitivity due to pretreatment with antibiotics, the breadth of potential pathogens present, and the requirement for invasive procedures to access deep-seated infections. This uncertainty in diagnosis can lead to unnecessary tests, procedures, and treatments.
Q: What are the products and/or services Karius offers/develops to address this need? What makes Karius unique?

A: The Karius(R) Test is a single blood test that can identify over 1,000 pathogens including DNA viruses, bacteria, fungi, molds, and protozoa. It can detect both bloodstream and deep-seated infections by identifying and quantifying cell-free pathogen DNA present in the blood which is derived from dead and dying organisms from throughout the body. Because of the non-invasive nature of the Karius Test, we think of it as a liquid biopsy for infectious disease. This approach can rapidly and accurately identify pathogens even in challenging infectious syndromes such as sepsis, culture-negative endocarditis, invasive fungal infections, and complicated pneumonia.

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

A: I oversee both the Clinical Development and Medical Affairs groups at Karius. On the Clinical Development side, we have a strong team that designs and executes our clinical studies in partnership with great collaborators around the country. On the Medical Affairs team, we provide pre- and post-testing clinical consultations to clinicians and meet with doctors to provide information and clinical data about the test.

Both roles are incredibly exciting and satisfying because I get to interact with a diverse range of clinicians and lab directors who are interested in applying the Karius Test to clinical care. Nothing is more exciting than to get on the phone with a physician and hear how the Karius Test result clinched a diagnosis, changed management, and impacted patient care.

I get a front row seat witnessing the future of infectious disease management.

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

A: The application of genomics has transformed the fields of heritable diseases, prenatal care, and oncology by unlocking previously inaccessible information. We believe that the same is true for the field of infectious diseases.

With improvements in sequencing technology, computing power, and data analytics, we now have tools to unlock microbial information to help clinicians more effectively treat their patients. Ultimately I believe the combination of host genomic data and microbial data will give us a much fuller picture of how human-microbe interactions contribute to health and disease.

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

A: In the short-term, the major challenge is convincing physicians that metagenomic sequencing approaches for infectious disease diagnostics are not just research tools or tests of last resort. We’re working on the studies to show that the Karius Test can positively impact patient outcomes and be a cost-effective approach to help diagnose some of the most challenging infections, particularly when applied as an early diagnostic tool.

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

A: We are only beginning to understand how metagenomic sequencing approaches like the Karius Test will improve patient care. At the recent American Society of Microbiology meeting, it was great to see how many people in the infectious disease and microbiology community are really pushing to advance the field. Just a year ago, there were only a few of us talking about sequencing-based infectious disease diagnostic tests. This year there were multiple sessions dedicated to these novel diagnostic approaches.

Our collaborators will be presenting a number of abstracts at IDWeek this October in San Francisco that describe how the Karius Test performs across a diverse array of patient types including invasive fungal infections, fever and neutropenia, endocarditis, and complicated pneumonia. Please come find us at these presentations or at our booth to say hi and learn more about what we’re doing.

Interview with Daniel Chen from IGM Biosciences

Q: Checkpoint inhibitors, particularly with PD-L1/PD-1 targeting agents, have benefited a broad range of patients with cancer. How will we improve on this?

A: It’s true that PD-L1/PD-1 inhibitors have led to durable responses in a subset of patients, and survival benefit in many of the patients treated- either as monotherapy or combination.

Read More

Call from PMWC 2019 Silicon Valley Program Committee – We Must Accelerate and Deliver on the Promise of Precision Medicine

Precision medicine advancements are real as demonstrated by the high volume of molecular, “precise” drugs on the market, which are based on extensive molecular and translational understanding of the specific drug targets.

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#AI Play in Patient Diagnosis? How Can We Prepare the Next Generation to Make Sense of Enormous Amounts of Health-related Data?

What role should artificial intelligence play in patient diagnosis? How can we best prepare the next generation to make sense of enormous amounts of health-related data? These were just a few of the questions explored at the 15th Precision Medicine World Conference held at Duke University September 24-25, 2018.

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Interview with Daniella Beller, Manager, Maccabi Research Institute Biobank

Q: What makes the Maccabi Research Institute biobank unique?

A: To explain the uniqueness of the Maccabi Biobank (named “Tipa” in Hebrew which means “drop” or “just a little”), first you must know a little about Maccabi.

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Why We Need Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) To Foster Drug Discovery

Investments in pharma R&D has substantially increased over the last decades. Yet there appears to be no clear correlation to the number of newly approved drugs. This fact is accompanied by ever-increasing healthcare costs, fueled by an aging population and the parallel rise in the chronic disease burden.

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Precision Medicine: A Decade of Improving the Standard of Care

In January, PMWC will host its 2019 Silicon Valley event, the largest Precision Medicine conference in the world with over 2,500 attendees gathering at the Santa Clara Convention Center. We are humbled and honored to have reached this stage of growth and are looking forward to continuing our work with key stakeholders and decision makers across the industry to ever strengthen this forum for exchange of critical and timely topics, to move the field of precision medicine forward and to improve the Standard of Care.

Read More

Interview with David Hong from Karius

Q: What need is Karius addressing?

A: Physicians often have difficulty pinpointing the exact pathogen that is causing disease. Conventional diagnostics like blood cultures or PCR can have poor sensitivity due to pretreatment with antibiotics, the breadth of potential pathogens present, and the requirement for invasive procedures to access deep-seated infections.

Read More

Interview with Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD from HL7

Q: What need is HL7 addressing?

A: For more than three decades, HL7 has provided the platform to enable global health data interoperability. This is more important than ever, as the cost of healthcare has increased exponentially, and the complexity of clinical evidence has grown to an almost unmanageable state.

Read More

Interview with Eden Haverfield from Invitae

Q: What need is Invitae addressing?

A: Our mission is to bring comprehensive genetic information into mainstream medical practice to improve the quality of healthcare for billions of people. Invitae is uniquely positioned to answer some of life’s most serious and complex questions with the highest quality genetics and at an affordable price.

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Call by Ralph Snyderman (Duke U.) for Big Changes to Get to the Next Level of Precision Medicine

Beyond next-generation gene sequencing and developing diagnostic tools and targeted therapies, theoverall approach to clinical care has to be re-envisioned to fulfill the promise of precision medicine. Care must move from sporadic treatment of episodic disease (a reactive mode) to predicting disease and then acting to prevent and mitigate it (a proactive mode).

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Interview with William Hearl From Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc.

Q: What need is Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. addressing?

A: Immunomic Therapeutics’ nucleic acid vaccines have the potential to utilize the body’s natural biochemistry to develop a broad immune response, including antibody production, cytokine release and critical immunological memory.

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Interview with Ralph Snyderman from Duke University

Q: What are some of the critical contributions that academic institutions and medical centers are making to implement and accelerate precision medicine?

A: Over the past decade, the field of precision medicine has created technologies enabling far more personalized and effective health care delivery. Many of the most dramatic advances have come in the field of oncology but targeting care to the needs of the individual is rapidly achieving broader applications.

Read More

Interview with Catherine Reinis Lucey from UCSF

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

A: My work involves designing, implementing and studying innovations in medical education that allow our medical schools to fulfill our social contract to improve the health of our communities and reduce the suffering of our patients.

Read More

Interview with Gunnar Carlsson from Ayasdi

Q: What need is Ayasdi addressing?

A: Ayasdi is pioneering the application of artificial intelligence to value-based care by targeting two of the most complex problems in healthcare: population risk stratification and clinical variation management.

Read More

Interview with Nikole Kimes from Siolta Therapeutics

Q: What need is Siolta Therapeutics addressing?

A: Chronic diseases, including inflammatory diseases such as asthma, now represent the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide.

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
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