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Last October, we had the privilege of talking to David Agus, one of the oncologists who treated Steve Jobs in the last few years of his life. We asked David about the future of personalized medicine means and the direction in which the intersection of health and technology are going.

When John Kennedy said “We are gonna put a man on the moon”, people thought he was crazy. One year later Neil Armstrong step on the moon, when the average age of a missile command was 27 years old, which means those kids where 18 years old when Kennedy made his proclamation. I can say whatever I want but is your generation that actually make the difference. We need you on our domain because we are not doing that well right now.

One of my personal takeaways from this conversation was the understanding of how challenging it is for young entrepreneurs to think differently. When looking for innovative ideas, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of what is considered to be the most transformative as in the case of personalized medicine, where genetic sequencing receives a great deal of focused attention. However, entrepreneurs who focus only on the most popular concepts risk developing tunnel vision and neglecting other potentially important elements that may be far simpler and easier to collect such as heart rate variation, long term emotional metrics, environmental and nutritional factors. Dr. Agus describes these elements as representing a “coarse” description of an individual’s health.

Citizen scientists, patients, their caregivers, and others can create powerful healthcare solutions by analyzing these coarse elements, especially when they don’t have access to the type of information that doctors or researchers possess. Don’t be afraid to take a step back and look at healthcare for its coarse elements and push to develop movements around valid science, as this is the very essence of going against the grain, a fundamental aspect of innovation.

Rahman Johnson, MD

Producer of the Healthcare Track

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