In the July 29th Health Innovation Forum we’ll hear from leaders from two Seattle-based firms on the forefront of this revolutionary approach to health. Precision Medicine is defined by the NIH as “ an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. “
This is the summer networking event of the Seattle Health Innovators, an independent grass-roots community of people interested in transforming health and health care. RSVP here. There is a $10 registration fee to cover the catering of hors d’oeuvres and beverages.
Our speakers will describe their work, followed by an interactive dialog with the audience. We will talk about opportunities at the intersection of life sciences with educated and engaged citizens/patients.
Sean Bell, MBA, is the Chief Business Officer for Arivale, a startup founded by Lee Hood. As reported in Geekwire, Arivale describes itself as “a revolutionary new wellness company combining cutting-edge science, an intimate and unprecedented view of your body, and personalized coaching to help you achieve your unique wellness potential”.
Sean managed the day to day operations of the 100K Project of the Institute of Systems Biology until it became Arivale. It creates an “N-of-1” health data cloud based on an individual’s genomics, metabolomics, microbiome, and “quantified self” metrics. Prior to working with ISB Sean held a senior leadership role in Alere Wellbeing.
Michael Kellen, PhD., leads the technology development team for Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit biomedical research organization founded by Stephen Friend. Sage Bionetworks is dedicated to developing data-driven methods to improve human health, and has a strong focus on building open systems and networks of individuals that can collaboratively solve complex scientific problems. They have recently established a program to gather real-time medical information from citizen/patient communities through mobile devices, participating as a launch partner for Research Kit with Apple and other medical centers.
Michael completed a PhD at the UW in 2002 with a focus on computational biology and helped start local bioinformatics company Teranode before joining Sage Bionetworks. His work centers on how technological advances in technology areas such as smartphones and cloud computing can accelerate biomedical research.
5:30-6:00 Networking, food and beverages
6:00-6:15 Community Announcements
6:15-7:00 Precision Medicine Speakers and Discussion
7:00-7:30 Networking, individual Q&A with speakers
The venue is at the Cambia Grove, 1800 9th Avenue, 2nd floor, Seattle, WA 98101.
To RSVP please click here: http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Health-Innovation-Forum/events/223664522/
The April Seattle Health Innovation Forum features networking at the University of Washington’s CoMotion Incubator with recent UW biotech spin-off companies and members of the Seattle health innovation community.
This is a great opportunity for Seattle-based health startups and others interested in health innovation to meet and connect with startups and other resources at the UW. We’re all trying to break down the silos, so please join us.
Panelists will include executives from 3 companies that recently spun out of UW’s CoMotion Incubator: Deurion, Stasys Medical, and M3 Biotechnology. It will also include regulatory experts who will provide insight and context for companies starting down that pathway.
The agenda will feature networking prior to and after the panel discussion. There is no charge for this event but an RSVP is required at this link so that we know who to expect and can order refreshments.
The May 2014 Seattle Health Innovation Forum featured presentations and a panel discussion about taking health innovations from the concept state through the long journey to successful implementation and sustainable growth. This month marks the one year anniversary of the formation of the Health Innovation forum and this panel discussion was an active demonstration of the talented innovators who live and work here. The panel, from left to right pictured above, included Chuck Murry, MD PhD of the University of Washington’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Don Rule, CEO of Translational Software, Jo Masterson, COO of 2Morrow, Inc., John Foy, MD, medical informaticist, and Lance Stewart, PhD, Senor Director of Strategy for the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design.
The areas of expertise covered by this panel was quite broad, from the genetic reprogramming of stem cells into living human heart muscles, pharmacogenomics reports to help physicians prescribe drugs personalized to patient DNA, mobile apps helping consumers adopt healthier behaviors, and synthetic protein structures that can block influenza and attach cancer cells. John Foy, as the moderator, focused the discussion on 4 themes: (1) how they managed the clinical trials process, (2) how technology transfer agreements both helped and hindered the innovation process, (3) how they managed the multi-sided business models so common in healthcare, and (4) their experience in attracting and retaining the best human capital.
The panel agreed that clinical trial management is best handled by institutions that are already geared up for managing the FDA approval processes. Technology Transfer agreements are necessary to the process of getting ideas originating in federally funded research from the research institutions into the commercial world. It has led to the vibrant life sciences industry. However, over the past decades since the law was changed to allow universities to commercialize these breakthroughs it has created a bureaucratic process whereby “concepts” are overvalued by those who license them- the problem of selling an acorn but charging for finished lumber. These issues are solvable but require time and skillful negotiation.by those whose primary interest is driving progress. The panel agreed that the presence in Seattle of world-class research institutes in the life sciences is attracting very strong talent from around the world.
When Dr. Foy asked the final question- “what can we do to help” , Lance Stewart responded to the audience- “keep doing this”.
Planning is now underway for the next Seattle Health Innovation Forum to be held in late July or early August.
Our May forum is an opportunity to meet leading innovators and hear about their work to take advances from research labs into clinical use and commercial success. Join us in downtown Seattle on May 6, 2014 from 5:30pm-8:00pm. This is the next step in our efforts to bring people together from different health sectors and to draw inspiration from each other’s work, whether in life sciences, Health IT, care delivery, healthcare finance, and other areas. These respected leaders will describe their projects, share their insights, and respond to audience questions:
Jo Masterson is a cofounder and Chief Operating Officer for 2Morrow, Inc, a Seattle based mobile software company who specializes in “mobilizing behavior change”. Jo will talk about her work with a clinical trial with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to commercialize the first Smartphone-delivered, smoking cessation app that is scientifically proven to help smokers quit. Recently 2Morrow was chosen for a $250,000 Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund grant to pilot a new program based on this research.
• Charles (Chuck) Murry, MD, PhD is Co-director of the University of Washington Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM), Professor of Pathology, and Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology. His research in the growth of healthy heart tissue from stem cells promises a new option for millions of people suffering from heart failure. He is currently building a biotech spin-off company based on this exciting research.
• Don Rule is the CEO of Translational Software which he founded in 2009 to accelerate the use of molecular diagnostics in clinical settings. Earlier roles for Don include a stint as CTO for Genelex, various program management roles at Microsoft, and Director of IT for a division of Dun & Bradstreet. Translational Software was bootstrapped in the SURF incubator in 2013 and has become a fast growing and profitable business. The company offers a SaaS platform that transforms genetic data into actionable guidance for physicians with detailed reports about the genetic implications of drugs personalized to each patient’s genetic profile.
• Lance Stewart, PhD, MBAis the Senior Director of Strategy for the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at the University of Washington (UW). The basic and translational research investigators of the IPD are global leaders in crowd-sourcing protein design through FoldIT and Rosetta-at-home; using computational protein design to create a whole new world of synthetic proteins to address challenges in medicine, energy, and technology. Lance co-founded Emerald Bio in 1998 as a UW spin-out company. He is also a co-founder of the Northwest NeuroNeighborhood, a member of WINGS Washington medical technology angel investor network, and board member of Tetra Discovery Partners.
Tuesday May 6, 2014 5:30-8:00pm
5:30 – 6:00 Networking, food, refreshments
6:00 – 6:15 Community announcements
6:15 – 7:30 Presentations, Panel, and Q&A
7:30 – 8:00 more networking
Register Now. The $10 registration fee covers the costs of the venue, food, and refreshments. This a grass-roots, volunteer-run event.
The forum will be held in The Exchange Building at 821 Second Avenue, Seattle WA 98104 on the corner of 2nd Ave and Marion.
Please note that the doors to the Exchange Building automatically lock at 6pm. After 6:00 please knock on the 2nd Avenue door or call us. The meeting room is the “Dice Cabana”, on the right as you enter the 2nd avenue lobby just past Tully’s coffee shop. If you are entering from 1st avenue before 6 take the elevator to the 4th floor and it will be across the lobby.
Parking, Public Transit
Paid evening parking is available at the First & Spring deck on 1st Ave between Spring and Union (must pay by 5:30 but it is open til 10). There are also 2 parking decks at 1st and Columbia, with other parking options closer to Pioneer Square.
Public Transit is an easy way to get here. For bus routes enter “2nd and Marion” as your destination using http://tripplanner.kingcounty.gov/. It is a short walk to dozens of King Metro routes that frequent nearby bus stops on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd streets. The University and Pioneer Square transit stations are just a few blocks away for convenient access to bus routes and lite rail. Frequent Eastside routes, such as the 550 from Mercer Island and Bellevue use the freeway’s bus lanes for quick access to downtown during rush hour.
The Seattle Heath Innovation Forum is a grass-roots community comprised of people interested in health and biotech startups, healthcare institutions, research organizations, and other Seattle area companies who want to transform health and healthcare. Please join the mailing list and RSVP at www.meetup.com/seattle-health-innovation-forum
John Foy and I recently visited the The University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design (IPD) as part of the Seattle Health Innovators program committee’s effort to build bridges between the downtown Seattle tech startup community and the biotechnology and biomedical luminaries in the area. The UW Medicine Advancement Office was kind enough to make arrangements for us to visit the lab in mid-January.
IPD scientists are designing synthetic proteins to help with diagnostics, therapeutics, CO2 fixation, and to create new drug delivery platforms. We spoke with scientists working on new drug delivery mechanisms to treat cancer, neurological disorders, and influenza.
In addition to having brilliant scientists on staff, they are using a volunteer network that makes available unused processing power of idle computers and also taps the brainpower of gamers who enjoy folding proteins in an online game.
David Baker is head of the IPD and gave us a tour of the eponymous Baker Laboratory that combines computer modeling, synthetic DNA, and the output of living biological organisms. The Baker Lab created the Rosetta software suite for predicting and designing protein structures, protein folding mechanisms, and protein-protein interactions. The analysis is computationally intensive, requiring massive computer resources. This has been accomplished through the Rosetta@home community of over 370,000 participants. This enables all these people to make their computers available to support this ground-breaking research.
In addition to Rosetta, the lab has created Fold-It, an online protein folding game that encourages users to “solve puzzles for science”. This game now has a global community with teams competing with each other for designing new shapes that may be relevant to diseases including HIV/AIDS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Baker, even non-biochemists have been able to use fold-it to not only increase their understanding of proteins but also to make significant progress in discovering new self-assembling shapes that may have practical use.
The Baker lab itself is remarkable. Entering the lab one sees a space divided in half. On the left is a studio of designers working at their desks with large monitors. It looked like a dozen other design studios I have seen in Seattle. But on the right, visible through the glass wall, was a biochemistry lab, with counters full of equipment and shelves packed with clear jars of mysterious fluids and bacteria cultures.
The protein designers work with Rosetta software to come up with a hypothetical design for how a protein molecule with a desired self-assembling structure could be constructed from a sequence of specific amino acids. The software then allows the Institute to order the genes for that sequence to be created by a DNA lab. When the synthesized DNA comes back they put it into bacteria which then produce the new protein structures. This allows the Institute to discover which of their designs can actually work in the physical world. Electron microscopy can magnify these new proteins to view the new structures at the atomic level. These images can be quite beautiful, as can be seen in the video link below.
The scientific mission of the institute has been funded through a variety of public and private grants. However, the Institute is also an incubator of new biotech startups. We spoke with Neil King, a post-doctoral fellow who plans to launch a company to commercialize a new protein that can be used as a platform for drug delivery. It has an elegant structure that allows a drug payload, such as a chemotherapy drug, to be sent harmlessly through the body until it connects with a targeted cell, whereupon it releases the drug only to that cell. This mechanism could open new possibilities for targeted therapies for cancer and Alzheimer’s. Another project at the Institute is a protein that can attach to the influenza virus. The commercial potential of a more effective way to treat people with influenza is very promising.
The Seattle area is home to spectacular innovation in health and life sciences. This is an emerging trend that builds on Puget Sound’s aerospace and information technology base. At the IPD we saw that the boundaries between computer science, healthcare, energy, materials science, and life sciences are becoming harder to draw.
For more information about the Institute for Protein Design, including images of some of their molecules see their Facebook page. For a more detailed explanation directly from David Baker, see this link from the UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Symposium, 2013.
In January John Foy,MD and I (shown in photo below) had an opportunity to visit the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine of the University of Washington School of Medicine in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle. What we saw there has given me a new perspective on the convergence of genomics, robotics, and the future of medicine.
John and I were hosted by Charles Murry, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and a Professor at the School of Medicine. This research is at the forefront of medical advances in the use of stem cells to produce new heart muscle cells. Dr. Murry explained that people with damaged heart tissue currently have few therapeutic options. He observed that there have been no new drugs in 15 years for heart failure. Heart transplants are an option for some patients but the supply of donors is constrained and the costs are very high, and so there are only about 2,000 transplants in the US per year. Because there are between 5-6 million heart failure patients, transplantation is not a viable option for most. A second option is the Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD, which can extend the life of a patient but carries significant risks of blood clots, stroke, and other complications. Regenerative medicine – using artificially grown cells – to repair damaged heart tissue is a third option. Like a transplant, it would mean that the patient would face a lifetime of suppressed immune response to prevent rejection of the new heart cells, but it would presumably have cost savings and better outcomes than either of the current options. They are striving towards human clinical trials and then for use in mainstream practice.
We saw early mouse embryos (blastocysts, the stage where embryonic cells can be derived), which are about the same size as Roosevelt’s eye on the dime. We saw embryonic stem cells, derived from human blastocysts “left over” from fertility clinics, which Dr. Murry says can divide forever and turn into any cell type in the body. In addition to the embryonic cells, Dr. Murry extracted some of his own cells from in the skin of his arm to be regressed – through genetic manipulation – from mature skin cells back to create a new stem cell line. From that point these former skin cells have been genetically programmed to become real human heart muscles. I saw heart muscle cells beating in a dish during this tour. The Institute has engineered 3D pieces of beating human heart muscles from these cells. It was truly an amazing sight.
The purpose of our trip was to explore collaborative opportunities across the health innovation community in Seattle. The hour we spent at the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM- pronounced as “ice cream”) provided strong confirmation that this potential is very real. Like most of the denizens of the Seattle startup community, the people at ISCRM are increasingly thinking and acting like entrepreneurs. The Heart Regeneration Program is becoming the equivalent of a biotech startup with about 8 employees. They recruited new talent, including Scott Thies, PhD, from Fate Therapeutics in San Diego to provide business leadership for this venture. Their goal is to be ready for a Phase 1 clinical trial in 4 years. This is a strategic shift beyond their historical reliance on state and federal grant funding. The transformation of the Heart Regeneration Program from academic research to a biotech startup is evidence that the entrepreneurial climate in this area is, like their cells, alive and growing.
Another aspect of convergence that readers of this blog may appreciate is the use of advanced robotics to discover the right recipes for achieving the reprogramming of stem cells. Tim Martins, PhD demonstrated the Quellos High Throughput Screening Core, a shared facility that serves many of the programs at ISCRM and other organizations. Because of this technology, a brute force approach can be taken to test every possible combination of certain reagents and concentrations.
The process of programming human stem cells – which Dr. Murry called “stem cell wrangling” – is on the frontier of medical science. It might not be too great a stretch to see it as engineering of the human platform.