Eric is currently Chief Science Officer at Datavant, an innovative new company with the mission to organize the worlds healthcare data. Eric is also Visiting Scientist in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School and a frequent volunteer advisor to Médecins Sans Frontières and other international aid and relief NGOs. Most recently Eric was Senior Vice President and Head of the Takeda R&D Data Science Institute where he built an integrated institute of more than 165 multi-disciplinary data scientists serving all aspects of biopharmaceutical R&D and digital health. Read his full bio.

Interview with Eric Perakslis of Datavant

Q: What need is Datavant addressing?

A: While the volume of health data grows precipitously year over year, our ability to make use of that data is not keeping pace. There are many aspects to the inherent challenges and opportunities of this data explosion but of particular concern is the increased fragmentation. Each new clinical study, consortium and/or large federal grant inevitably creates a tailored knowledge base that, in effect, is the next data silo and the fragmentation compounds. We have a paper out this month in Nature Drug Discovery that calls for a much ‘bigger’ data approach to the massive unmet medical need of Alzheimers’ disease (AD) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29977050. In this paper we suggest that, to make progress in all the unknown aspects of AD, we must start by linking all existing AD data sets/sources and only add prospectively to this master linked source. It is not only doable, it is necessary.

A key challenge to this type of progress are the frictions that arise from the competing ideals, competing institutions, technology incompatibilities, the need for global ethics and IRB oversight etc. We can do ‘bigger data’ much better but still must protect patient privacy and to leverage past patient data to provide better care to future patients. We address this problem through offering a suite of software solutions that reduce the friction for sharing and de-siloing data across the industry all while protecting patient privacy.

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

A: I think it is our ambitions that make Datavant unique. We see a completely unmet set of opportunities in healthcare data that are essentially untouched. One way to visualize the opportunity are as the macro and micro silos of healthcare data. The micro silo problem is reasonably well understood. When people choose to work together and share data via consortia, grant or other data club, there are plenty of ways to do it. Good examples are Project DataSphere (https://projectdatasphere.org/projectdatasphere/html/home) or the extensive use of tranSMART (http://transmartfoundation.org/) by IMI consortia, both efforts we strongly endorse. But what about the macro silos?

The progress on Apple Healthkit is amazing, but my 70-year old mom cannot afford a thousand-dollar iPhone. Where is the Android version? That is a macro silo. More specifically to Datavant, there is the massive gap between drug development and medical practice. Those data exist in different regulatory regimes, in different types of institutions and are fire-walled against competition and re-use. What if every patient visit generated the equivalent of a case report form that could be submitted to the FDA. There has been great progress in real world data and evidence, but the macro silo remains untouched. Lastly, healthcare data is growing rapidly but is still a small percent of data that exists about each of us. There is great energy and promise in social determinants of health. How can the other 99% of data about us that exists outside of our medical records be used to improve and ensure our health?

Today, the core of Datavant’s offering is a on-premise software solution for de-identifying datasets in a manner that preserves the ability to link it to other data at the patient level. This enables our customers to stitch together de-identified datasets that come from a range of sources without compromising patient privacy. Datavant is also rolling out a new service which creates an ‘index’ of anonymous patients from participating data sources, offering a rapid means of identifying overlap (and therefore partnership opportunities) across multiple datasets.

Today, our services target the micro silo problem. As they evolve, our offerings will tackle the macro silo challenge.

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

A: As CSO, my role is to think deeply about the problems in healthcare and to help envision solutions that will enable and deliver transformational success for our partners in their data strategies. If I get that right, it automatically ensures innovative products and solutions for Datavant.

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

A: We’re experiencing a moment where a large number of healthcare institutions and healthcare product companies are realizing that they are actually data companies at their core. Datavant offers a path to exploit these untapped aspects of their practices, businesses and research institutions. It is early days but, so far, our greatest accomplishments are the new data linking and privacy preserving capabilities we have brought to these organizations.

For me personally, it is the new and novel research studies and partnerships we have launched that, once complete, will demonstrate the value of thinking about and using data differently. Today, these are proprietary to our partners but they will be revealed in clinical study designs and new publications soon.

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

A: Traditional thinking is always a barrier but also well worth the effort to overcome. This has been a core challenge to my change agent role in every position I have held. I actually love it. Well-intentioned but complex new regulation, such as GDPR has introduced a great deal of uncertainty for any party working with European datasets, though we expect that the path forward on this will become progressively clear in the future.

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

A: Only that, if any of you have a really complex healthcare data challenge that appears to be a barrier that is preventing transformational progress or change, I would love to talk about it.

Cheers!

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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
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