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How Wearables Will Help Us Keep Tabs On The Future Of Health



February 6, 2020 | When Michael Snyder published his deep dive into his own genomics in Cell in 2012, the approach garnered quite a bit of attention. He called it an integrative personal omics profile (iPOP), an analysis that combines genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, metabolomic, and autoantibody profiles from a single individual. In the years since, Snyder—Stanford W. Ascherman Professor & Chair, Department of Genetics; Director, Center for Genomics & Personalized Medicine, Stanford University—has kept going, gathering more data, interpreting it, and thinking through how others can do the same.

In June 2015 Snyder founded Q.Bio offering anyone a “comprehensive view” of their health—in 75 minutes or less.

Today Snyder is incorporating data from smart watches, continuous glucose monitoring, and other wearables to track people’s health and find early signs of disease. He’ll be presenting his latest at the Digital Medicine event at the upcoming Molecular Medicine Tri-ConferenceBio-IT World caught up with Snyder via email to get an update on his work.

Editor’s Note: Snyder will be speaking during the Digital Medicine event at the upcoming Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference in San Francisco, March 1-4, 2020.

Bio-IT World: We first heard you speak at Stanford in 2013, a little over a year after the Cell paper came out. Are you still tracking your health with the same attention?

Michael Snyder: Yes. We discovered the onset of my Lyme disease by this tracking as well as when my diabetes reappeared. We also figured out how I am aging which will be published shortly. Last May we had a paper showing the results of tracking 109 individuals and found 49 major health discoveries.

Your iPOP study used whole genome and whole transcriptome sequencing of blood samples. Since then there have been many efforts to integrate imaging and other clinical measurements in longitudinal data gathering, and now you are working with wearables. What are the best ways to gather individualized data on our health? What sorts of tests are the most valuable?

Actually we [also] had proteomics and metaobolomics and autoantibodies and cytokines. It turns out all the tests are valuable but they have different costs. We made many significant discoveries with genomics but also with imaging, other ‘omics and wearables.

Do you think everyone should be tracking their health in these ways?

Yes, but not at this depth and more focused on medically relevant information. We set up a company Qbio to do this.

Who should be driving this data collection and curation? The individual? An overseeing physician? Are either equipped to do this? What do we need to make that a reality?

Health care providers, businesses, and also consumers. All should be motivated to keep people healthy. Physicians are not equipped. As above we set up a commercial group that can do this and display the results back in an understandable fashion.

What recent technology changes are enabling and/or hindering our progress in gathering and using longitudinal health data?

Lots of new technologies, omics, wearable etc as well as rapid computation and deep learning are enabling this to happen. The bottleneck is showing this has value to patient care and reduces costs overall.

What characteristics of the health care delivery system—financial models or other quirks—are enabling or hindering our ability to gather and use longitudinal health data?

Hindering is the issue of who pays. Currently our healthcare system is not incentivized to keep people healthy. Most people get paid when they are ill. Helping are venture capitalists and innovators who are trying to make this happen.

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