5 emerging influencers to watch in cancer, genomics, drug research
( Stephen Quake)
Who inspires great minds like Bill Gates and Eric Topol?
For its second Smart List, which appears in the December issue, Wired magazine asked business, science, entertainment and nonprofit leaders to name one up-and-comer they’ve got their eyes on. These are people whose ideas or work are likely to influence the future of their respective industries.
The complete list is here, but I found the work of these five (OK, six) individuals particularly interesting:
These identical twins lost their mother to cancer and have set out to identify new targeted therapies for advance-stage cancers by combining different kinds of cancer sequencing data. They’ve alreadycreated an online research database that matches genes linked to cancer and other diseases with drugs that target those genes.
John Dick, senior scientist at Ontario Cancer Institute (nominated by author/physician Siddhartha Mukherjee)
He’s too accomplished to really be considered “emerging,” but you should still know about him. Credited with first identifying cancer stem cells in certain kinds of leukemia and demonstrating that all cancer cells aren’t equal, Dick helped set the course for development of more targeted therapies.
Stephen Quake, professor of bioengineering at Stanford (selected by Eric Topol)
The Stanford University bioengineering professor created the first non-invasive prenatal test for Down syndrome and has improved methods for measuring the immune system, among other inventions. He’s a scientific co-founder of Verinata Health, which develops non-invasive pre-natal tests; ImmuMetrix, whose R&D is focused on sequencing and analyzing immune profiles; biotech tools company Fluidigm Corp.; and Helicos BioSciences, a genetic analysis company that licensed its technology to various genomics companies after going bankrupt.
Raj Krishnan, co-founder and CEO of Biological Dynamics (selected by Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm CEO)
Before reaching the age of 30, Krishnan and colleagues discovered a potential new way to detect cancer from a single blood draw and formed a company called Biological Dynamics to commercialize it. Jacobs wrote that he’s an investor.
Peter Doshi, postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University (selected by Dr. Ben Goldacre, author and epidemiology research fellow at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Research suggests that about every other clinical trial conducted for treatments in use today hasn’t been published. Doshi is leading a charge to unearth that unpublished clinical trial data that could help researchers better understand the potential benefits and harms of drugs. GlaxoSmithKline and Roche are among pharma companies that have recently committed to greater transparency with clinical trial data.