Smart people

Today MPOW hosted another BICB Symposium.  BICB is our Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology program, and it is a collaborative effort with the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, IBM, and the Hormel Institute.

I was a history major in college.  I have no idea what these people are talking about most of the time.

This morning’s keynote was delivered by Dr. Jean-Pierre Kocher, who is the Chair of the Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics at the Mayo Clinic. His particular scientific interest (quoting from the program now…) “focuses on the development and application of computational methods to advance the understanding of molecular mechanisms that underlie clinical disorders.” Phew.

Dr. Kocher (who has a charming French accent, by the way…) gave the keynote address entitled, “Bioinformatics and the future of medicine: an opportunity for the State of Minnesota?”

According to Dr. Kocher, medicine is moving from reactive to preventive, from generalized to personalized, from evidence-based to mechanism-based, and from syptomatic to holistic and integrative.  Additionally, we will see regenerative and robotized medicine. Genomics and bioinformatics will be critical.

Personalized medicine is defined as the right treatment for the right person at the right time.  Full genome sequencing is becoming increasingly affordable, and that will change how doctors treat patients.  He can envision patients being systomatically sequenced in the near future.

Bioinformatics is a multidisciplinary field, and we need to delevop and apply methods to mine and analyze biological data. The future of bioinformatics will be from patterns to mechanisms, from static to dynamic, and from statistical prediction to simulation.

The first step is data integration.  We need to integrate different genomics databases, include biological relationships, and combine public and in-house data.  Mayo, for instance, is developing the BORA system to do just that.

Integrative analysis is the mining of large datasets across study, across diseases, and across platform. Need to develop novel normalization methods, and explore biological and functional relationships within a systems context.

The contribution of bioinformatics to the future of medicine is increasingly important; bioinformatics will play a fundamental role in the transformation of medicine. Collaborations are needed to assemble multidisciplinary panels of analytical experts, interface with basics and clinical researchers, have access to the latest experiments and computational technologies, and to educate the next generation of bioinformatics experts.

The opportunities for Rochester and Minnesota are enormous to create new businesses and jobs in this area. What will it take to be the Health Corridor of Minnesota?  Comparing the region to Silicon Valley, they have domain expertise, institutional leadership, business incubators, early successes, and a source of investments. Southeast Minnesota has the same advantages.

Dr. Kocher believes that the future for the region is bright. Kiplinger’s agrees.

Turns out, hanging around with smart people is a very good thing.


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Filed under Me and mine, Techie stuff

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