We are sequencing the world -- from ourselves to all of the organisms upon which we depend as a living planet. In the future, our planetary genome might include new life forms built in the lab; there is even talk of the possibility of a resurrected Neanderthal, carried by a surrogate human mother. Science fiction? Not anymore.
What do we need in health care? Fewer people who get ill in the first place. When they do, they should receive better care, tailored to who they are and the specifics of their disease, delivered at a lower cost. The challenges notwithstanding, we moved a step closer to this fantastic vision for health care in 2014.
Utilizing technological advancements in genomics, bioinformatics, computing and cell therapy, HLI plans to develop therapeutic solutions to some of the most complex yet actionable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. Bob recently sat down with me to discuss his current work on the frontiers of aging and cellular science.
The National Institutes of Health has funded four pilot projects to explore the use of genome sequencing in health care of newborns. Over the next several years, these pilot projects will yield useful information that will help us assess the potential for genome sequencing, its value in health care, and its ethical dimensions.
Biological evolution has taken 3.5 or 4 billion years to get us where we are. The adaption of our species to the social environment -- social evolution -- has been must faster. Now that we can read and write the genetic code, put it in digital form and translate it back into synthesized life, it will be possible to speed up biological evolution to the pace of social evolution.