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 of 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 Andrew Carroll of Google AI

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: I believe that applying AI technologies in healthcare will make physicians more valuable, and will make their careers more enjoyable and sustainable.

Read More

Interview with L. Staton Noel III of Panaceutics

Q: What need is Panaceutics addressing?

A: One of the key barriers to making precision/personalized wellness and healthcare products is the contradictory goal of manufacturing individualized products on a large scale. Meeting demand for personalized products can be expensive and logistically challenging.

Read More

Interview with Joe Zhang of Burning Rock Dx

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend?

A: The milestones in my mind include the first FDA clearance of Next Gen Sequencing instrument, MiSeqDx in 2013, this opened a new door for clinical utilization of parallel gene alteration detection in clinical setting.

Read More

Why are Scientists So Upset About The First CRISPR Babies?

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Kara Davis of Stanford

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: These immune checkpoint inhibitors have been an incredible demonstration of the ability of the immune system to control and in some cases.

Read More

Interview with Shannon J. McCall of Duke University

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend?

A: After several years of the promise of precision medicine and abundant clinical trial work, the recent FDA approval of solid-tumor-agnostic therapies dependent on molecular biomarkers has catapulted genomic/precision medicine into the standard-of-care for late stage cancer.

Read More

Interview with Tao Chen of Paragon Genomics, Inc.

Q: Once sequencing has been validated as a clinical solution via trusted workflows, and coinciding with the technological developments driving costs lower, we can expect accelerated human genome profiling for clinical Dx. How soon, do you think, will we see accelerated growth and what can we expect?

A: For whole genome sequencing to be a reliable clinical tool, it will largely depend on the cost of sequencing the genome and our ability to interpret the data.

Read More

Call for Action: The Time is Now for Patient Data Interoperability

The use of new technologies can provide breakthrough benefits for both patients and providers. However, with increased sharing comes increased risks to the security and privacy of patient data. Currently data is being accumulated across many organizations and initiatives but is often either siloed or simply not accessible. Researchers suggest that patient education tactics can help quell security concerns during patient data sharing.

Read More

Interview with Andrew Magis of Arivale

Q: Once sequencing has been validated as a clinical solution via trusted workflows, and coinciding with the technological developments driving costs lower, we can expect accelerated human genome profiling. How soon, do you think, will we see what kind of accelerated growth?

A: I think the acceleration has already begun. Large sequencing projects such as NHLBI Trans-omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) and NIH All of Us are sequencing 150,000 and 1 million individuals, respectively.

Read More

Interview with Emily Leproust of Twist Bioscience

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: Preventative medicine – using genetic data to identify traits that have the potential to cause harm in the future.

Read More

Interview with Michael Phelps of UCLA

Q: You invented the PET scanner that changed the lives of millions of patients with cancer, brain and heart diseases. What are the potential benefits to patients of combining PET with radio-ablation technologies?

A: PET provides imaging assays of the biology of disease in many diseases today.

Read More

Interview with Daniela Ushizima of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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: I really hope that human physicians will not be replaced by machines in the foreseeable future.

Read More

Interview with Amy Compton-Phillips of Providence St. Joseph Health

Q: Genomic medicine is entering more hospitals and bringing with it non-invasive technology that can be used to better target and treat diseases. What are some key milestones that contributed to this trend? What technological advancements are driving this change?

A: Genomic medicine is poised to move quickly from the research realm into integration with healthcare delivery, but there is always a time lapse between technology advances and what we do with those advances.

Read More

Interview with James Taylor of Precision NanoSystems

Q: There are various new, emerging technologies that bring us closer towards a cure for life-threatening disorders such as cancer, HIV, or Huntington’s disease. Prominent examples include the popular gene editing tool CRISPR or new and improved cell and gene therapies. By when can we expect these new technologies being part of routine clinical care?

A: Patients are already receiving treatment using novel gene and cell therapies.

Read More

Interview with Julie Eggington of Center for Genomic Interpretation

Q: Together with Robert Burton you founded the Center for Genomic Interpretation (CGI), a non-profit organization. Can you tell us more about CGI and the mission behind it?

A: CGI’s mission is to drive quality in clinical genetics and genomics. CGI works primarily with laboratories, health insurance payers, clinicians, and patients/consumers.

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!

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!