We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Slava Akmaev – who will be speaking at our upcoming PMWC 2018 Silicon Valley conference this coming January – to discuss his vision of “why data-driven research is important, and how machine learning and AI will advance precision medicine in the years to come”.

To learn more about the different AI and machine learning sessions planned for PMWC 2018 SV, see the full agenda here. Furthermore, we have scheduled an AI Company Showcase which will take place on Monday January 22 and will provide a 15-minute time slot for selected AI companies. Presenting companies display their latest developments and innovations in the critical areas of data-driven patient care, population health, healthcare process automation, or AI-enabled drug discovery and development. Confirmed Presenting Companies include AI Cure, Altoida, BayLabs, CureMetrix, doc.ai, Good AI Lab, Insilico, Lunit, Medimsight, Mendel.ai, Numerate, NuMedii, Owkin, PathAI, PhenoMX, Physiq, quibim, SkinVision, Suggestic, twoXAR, UCSF, Viome, and Zebra Medical Vision.

Q: Berg provides the Berg Interrogative Biology platform. Can you tell us more about this platform and its AI Analytics? What need is it addressing? What kind of programs are you running using the Berg platform?

A: The Interrogative Biology® platform offers a new direction in drug discovery by juxtaposing disease biology and normal cellular (homeostatic) biology, which is comprised of characteristic signatures including genes, proteins, lipids, metabolites and their network of expression. Interrogative Biology® is a novel automated approach to biopharma research. It is a top-down artificial intelligence driven workflow for conducting studies in molecular mechanisms. The platform has also been designed to pinpoint key regulatory mechanisms and potential intervention points in an automated fashion. BERG is the pioneer in using artificial intelligence in pharmaceutical research. Over a decade, BERG has developed an extensive therapeutics and diagnostics pipeline by applying Interrogative Biology® in disease areas such as cancer, diabetes, and neurology. In parallel, BERG has validated this method through rigorous and expert guided experimental work in its in vitro laboratory. The platform’s advantage is in rapid discovery of new therapeutic targets and biomarkers. Additionally, BERG utilizes the platform for effective patient stratification in its clinical programs. Interrogative Biology® is designed for discovery of efficacy and safety biomarkers that help BERG succeed in clinical trials by selecting the right patient populations and shortening the approval process.

Q: Berg addresses big data challenges. What type of data do you focus on and what solutions do you offer to derive actionable insights from these data?

A: BERG is engaged in projects that span the entire spectrum of healthcare data sources. In drug development and diagnostics, BERG uses the artificial intelligence platform bAIcis® for integration and analysis of high throughput molecular data, phenotypic data and clinical trial records. In digital health, the company works with patient information such as claims data, physician notes and records, pharmacy records, and hospital data. With its partners, BERG analyzes extensive phase III clinical trial data and real world outcomes. The bAIcis® platform integrates data across the continuum and derives insight in a data source unbiased way. bAIcis® is a Bayesian artificial intelligence inference software capable of operating with thousands of features across millions of observations. It learns feature relationships directly from the variability in the data and provides concise and straightforward insight from network topology analyses.

Q: Why is data-driven research important, and how will machine learning and AI advance precision medicine in the years to come? What types of trends should we be on the look-out for?

A: Data-driven research brings another dimension to pharma R&D. By initiating de-novo discovery and research programs, BERG is able to chart largely novel mechanisms of disease progression and on-set. Whether it’s molecular data or data that is more outcomes centered, generating therapeutic and patient management hypotheses outside of common, community thinking is of tremendous benefit. It takes the company away from costly in-licensing agreements and positions our R&D programs in a context of novel intellectual property unencumbered by other participants in the space. From a scientific and clinical perspective, BERG has done distinguished work in oncology and neurodegeneration. Our research programs go well beyond the typical therapeutic framework, they target cancer metabolism and unfamiliar molecular mechanisms in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

Q: How is Berg addressing the industry need to provide better (or the right) treatment for the right person?

A: BERG is committed to Precision Medicine. We use Interrogative Biology® extensively in clinical development with the aim of the discovery of patient stratification molecular biomarkers. The biomarker discovery process starts early on in the Phase I clinical trials where BERG collects multiple time points of biological fluids from the patients in the trial. The findings are validated in Phase II studies leading to a set of validated complementary molecular and digital diagnostics. These signatures are used for patient stratification in Phase III. This strategy allows BERG to pinpoint the right patient population for the therapy before the drug is on the market.

Q: Where should industry and healthcare resources be invested in for better disease understanding?

A: From my perspective, there are three areas that I hope will get more attention from the investors and pharma executives. One is data diversity. To better our disease understanding, the industry R&D needs to look at molecular data more comprehensively. It is important to remember that cellular biochemical reactions at large define normalcy. When we study disease phenotype and its molecular inner workings, careful assessment of changes in the levels of the proteins, metabolites, and lipids provides critical hypotheses and intervention points for drug development. This leads us to the second point of data quality. Extending scientific and technology resources to enhance the quality of public and private data repositories would go a long way in solidifying the baseline foundation of disease understanding at the molecular level. Thirdly are the analytics tools and methods. BERG has invested in development of a Bayesian AI platform bAIcis®. Others in the industry are actively engaged in applying neural network algorithms to imaging and clinical data. There is room for other approaches that will engage complex mathematics in life sciences applications.

Q: When it comes to working with data in healthcare, what are some of the challenges on our way to positively affect real-world outcomes, and how can we overcome those?

A: Achieving proof points is a labor-intensive and lengthy task in healthcare. When BERG started on this path almost a decade ago, typical feedback and questions we received were about the power of the BERG approach and substantive use cases for Interrogative Biology®. Developing a successful drug from a de novo discovery takes several years if not more; validating a novel diagnostic might take several years as well. We are excited to have a number of advanced programs in the clinic and other stages of development. However getting to this stage will remain a challenge for new technologies entering the healthcare industry today.

Q: Can you talk about an example of the Berg Interrogative Biology platform used in a data-driven approach in drug discovery or biomarker identification? What are the results and lessons learned?

A: Our flagship drug development program in oncology is currently in phase II studies in pancreatic cancer and phase I/II in glioblastoma. The compound BPM31510 is a cancer metabolism therapeutic. Its development is guided by artificial intelligence. BERG applied Interrogative Biology® platform to elucidate the compound mechanism of action, guide clinical development toward the right tumor types, and BERG currently uses the platform to develop complementary diagnostics for potential patient stratification in registrational trials. In addition, BERG has late stage pre-clinical programs in diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, a validated diagnostic panels in prostate cancer, and validation ready predictive diagnostic programs in neurodegeneration.

Interview with Honoree Mary Relling, PMWC Duke 2018 Luminary Honoree

Q: Why is preemptive pharmacogenetics testing important in the context of personalized medicine?

A: We estimated that pharmacogenetic test results can impact the use of nearly 100 drugs, accounting for up to 18% of current prescriptions. Therefore, having pharmacogenetic test results already “in hand” at the time of prescribing will be more convenient for patients and physicians compared to performing as needed, one gene-at-a-time testing, which will be slower and more expensive.

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Interview with Eric Perakslis from 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.

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All of Us Research Program Aims to Create Diverse Research Data Resource

In the age of big DNA data, it is important to remember that accumulating large amounts of data is not enough. Equally important is keeping the DNA data that participants provide as diverse as possible to allow us to generate answers to questions about how different variables impact people differently.

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Interview with Philip Parks from Exact Sciences Corporation

Q: What need is Exact Sciences Corporation addressing?

A: Exact Sciences’ mission is to improve patient outcomes through the early detection of cancer. We are especially focused on developing highly accurate, minimally invasive screening tests and technologies.

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Interview with Mike Nall from Biocept, Inc.

Q: What need is Biocept, Inc addressing?

A: Physicians are not receiving all the genomic information needed for precision medicine therapeutic decision making so some patients potentially miss out on targeted therapies that could save or extend their lives.

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Interview with Michael Pellini from Section 32

Q: How do you select startup companies you invest in? What are values you are looking for both in the companies and the leadership teams?

A: This answer is more of a philosophical one rather than a simple listing of ingredients, even though the latter might be easier or more reassuring for an entrepreneur to digest.

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Jeff Gordon, The “Father of the Microbiome” On The Promises and Challenges of the Microbiome in Precision Medicine

The microbiome significantly impacts human health, playing a crucial role in maintaining health and preventing disease. It influences endocrinology, physiology, and even neurology, altering the outcome of many different disease states, and it has been shown to augment drug responses and tolerance. In parallel to your normal microbiota, headlining pathogens are grabbing our attention, as we seem to face a major epidemic or viral outbreak of some sort each year, whether it is Zika, Ebola, or the Coronavirus MERS-CoV.

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Q&A with Jeff Balser, Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, President & CEO VUMC

Q: What is your vision for personalized care?

A: While the term “personalized care” has become popular contemporary with the maturation of genomic medicine, it is clear that the entire context of care – including social, behavioral, and environmental factors – drives the outcomes we are hoping to achieve.

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Q&A with All of Us Research Program Deputy Director Stephanie Devaney, Ph.D.

Q1a: You are the Deputy Director of the All of Us Research Program. What is your role as the deputy director and why is this initiative so important?

A: As deputy director, my primary role is to work closely with the All of Us Director Eric Dishman in guiding the program from concept to reality. Our vision is to enable a healthier future for all of us by building a data resource that scientists can use to speed up research and the development of individualized approaches to prevention and treatment.

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Interview with Honoree Jeffrey Gordon, PMWC 2018 Duke Luminary Honoree

Q: Why is the microbiome so important in the context of precision medicine?

A: We can’t ignore a part of our body that is composed of tens and tens of trillions cells, albeit microbial – a population that collectively contains at least two orders of magnitude more genes than in our Homo sapiens genome, endows us with attributes and capabilities that we have not had to evolve on our own, and contributes to our intra- and interpersonal biological variations as well as health status.

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Call to the Health Care Community to Execute on Next Steps for a Wider Adoption and Implementation of Precision Medicine

The recent Facebook data breach, genetic data sleuthing by the FBI that led to the Golden State Killer, and the soon-to-be-implemented European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), has put data privacy and security front and center.

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Data Privacy, the Security, And Ownership

The recent Facebook data breach, genetic data sleuthing by the FBI that led to the Golden State Killer, and the soon-to-be-implemented European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), has put data privacy and security front and center.

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Q&A with Jason Crites from IBM & Piers Nash from Health2047 Speaking at PMWC 2018 Michigan in June

Q: What need is IBM and Health2047 addressing in the healthcare/life sciences sector?

Jason (IBM): The industry is undergoing a significant transformation as reimbursement shifts from fee-for-service to value-based outcomes in the face of regulatory uncertainty.

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Dr. Francis Collins of NIH at June PMWC Michigan- Launch of Nationwide Participation Enrollment!

This past Sunday—May 6, 2018—the program reached a major milestone with the start of the nationwide participation enrollment! The All of Us Research Program, part of the Precision Medicine Initiative that was famously announced by President Barack Obama at the 2015 State of the Union address, aims to enroll a total of 1 million Americans.

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Meet Dr. Gil Omenn, Director of the University of Michigan Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics on June 6th at PMWC 2018 Michigan

Q: What are the objectives of the Human Proteome Project and what are some of the recent breakthrough discoveries?

The HUPO Human Proteome Project has two overarching goals: (1) to complete the protein parts list, with at least one protein product from each of the ~20,000 protein-coding genes along with sequence variants, splice variants, and post-translational modifications, with characterization of their functions;…

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University of Michigan

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

  • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
    • Digital Phenotyping
    • Precision Public Health
    • Pharmacogenomics
    • The Microbiome
    • Rare Disease Diagnosis
    • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
    • Early Days of Life Sequencing
    • Diversity in Precision Medicine
    • Resilience
    • AI and Machine Learning
    • Gene Editing
    • Large Scale Bio-data Resources to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
    • Point-of Care Dx Platform
    • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
    • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
    • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
    • Immunotherapy
    • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
    • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy ctDNA, etc.
    • Neoantigens
    • Emerging Technologies In PM

The Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC), held annually in Silicon Valley, is coming back to North Carolina for its 2nd Conference back at Duke University on September 24-25, 2018.

PMWC 2018 Duke, the 15th installment of the conference, will spotlight the explosion of biomedical technologies, driving initiatives that enable the translation of precision medicine into direct improvements in health care.

 

    • Track 1 will showcase sessions on the latest advancements in precision medicine which include, but are not limited to:
      • Digital Phenotyping
      • Precision Public Health
      • Pharmacogenomics
      • The Microbiome
      • Rare Disease Diagnosis
      • Digital Health/Health and Wellness
      • Early Days of Life Sequencing
      • Diversity in Precision Medicine
      • Resilience
      • AI and Machine Learning
      • Gene Editing
      • Large Scale Bio-data Resources
        to Support Drug Development (PPPs)
      • Point-of Care Dx Platform
      • FDA Efforts to Accelerate PM
      • Implementation into Health Care Delivery
      • Next Gen. Workforce of PM
      • Immunotherapy
      • Robust Clinical Decision Support Tools
      • Creating Clinical Value with Liquid Biopsy
        ctDNA, etc.
      • Neoantigens
      • Emerging Technologies In PM
  • Track 2- PMWC 2018 Duke Showcase, will enable 15-minute company presentations on latest novel technologies. Apply to present here.
big data diagnostics session

Clinical Dx Showcase

crispr showcase

Emerging Therapeutics Showcase

NGS Showcase

Genomic Profiling Showcase

AI Showcase Session Image

AI and Data Sciences Showcase

  • Luminary and Pioneer Awards, honoring individuals who contributed, and continue to contribute, to the field of Precision Medicine
  • 500+ 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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