Making genomics social: an interview with Susanne Baars
I had the privilege to interview Susanne Baars about her vision for the future which forms the basis for her SocialGenomics Moonshot.
I found the juxtaposition of social and genomics intriguing. I think that medical research and innovation is best done as a societal activity engaging multiple disciplines and multiple stakeholders.
The inspiration behind SocialGenomics is to increase access to potentially life-saving information:
"SocialGenomics mission is to empower patients to find their cure faster together. It's a solution built from the perspective of patients who are searching for a cure. We want to empower them and then direct them to the healthcare that they or their child needs. Through technology, we can provide people access to a broader scope, both in respect of information, but also in opportunities that might be possible in other countries throughout the world."
When you consider that with precision medicine identifying more and more sub-phenotypes of common diseases the ability to network and collaborate on a global scale becomes vitally important.
The vision goes beyond just general health information with the aim of speeding up medical innovation. It is that vision that made this interview intriguing. In the interview we go into more depth about the human genome project and the process of innovation.
In their book New Power, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms point out that:
“The future will be a battle over mobilization. The everyday people, leaders, and organisations who flourish will be those best able to channel the participatory energy of those around them – for the good, for the bad, and the trivial.”
It is clear to me that Susanne’s vision for SocialGenomics is a great example of how the ‘new power’ can be used for the good.
Vas Narasimhan, the CEO of Novartis in a recent Forbes article detailed how for advances such as data science and technology it can be a real challenge to move beyond the ‘dancing bear’ stage where everyone is dazzled by novelty, but the practical implementation of advances is delayed.
Are new power approaches the way to move beyond the ‘dancing bear’ stage?
Or, are we doomed to always have long lead times for innovation in medicine?
Listen to the interview of Susanne, and then come back here and put some of your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.