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Genome Pioneer Hood to Receive Palmaz Award
September 12, 2011

By Jim Forsyth, WOAI

The scientist who is credited with laying the groundwork for the human genome project, which has helped make major strides in treating conditions ranging from Parkinson's disease to cancer, has been named the winner of BioMed SA's 2011 Julio Palmaz Award for Innovation in Healthcare and the Biosciences, 1200 WOAI news reports.

Dr. Leroy Hood is a prominent bioscience entrepreneur, and is a co-founder of 13 biotechnology companies, including Amgen and Applied Biosystems, two of the most prominent corporations in bioscience research and product development.

In an interview with 1200 WOAI news, Hood said he is 'supremely optimistic' that the world is on the verge of life changing developments in medicine.

"I think within ten years we will see dramatic differences in the way medicine is practiced, and I think within twenty years, we will be fully embedded in pro active medicine," Dr. Hood said.

Pro active medicine, which Hood calls P4 Medicine, involves changing the way medicine is practiced, and changing the nature of the essential relationship between doctor and patient. He says the practice will move from a 'largely reactive discipline' to a pro active one, enabling researchers to quantify wellness and demystify disease.

He says technology and research will enable that to occur, and he cited one example of how Americans may soon use smart phones and other devices to monitor their health.

"We will each have little devices which can monitor our own health, and give us daily feedback on how we are doing," he said, pointing out that the technology will help encourage individuals to adopt healthy behaviors and drop unhealthy ones.

"We can actually give people information about themselves which will in itself be an enormous motivation for changing bad habits."

He says the idea of 'personalized medicine,' which the human genome project made possible, will be expanded in the coming years to include personal therapies, personal medications, and a physician who spends more time preventing disease than curing it.

And he says that type of medicine can bring down health care costs drastically, because much of the high cost of health care today involves the expense involved in developing 'scatter shot' treatments which affect patients in different ways.

"You can spend $100,000 a year on a cancer drug that is only going to let you live two months more," he said. "That doesn't make much sense."

Hood says he can't predict that Americans will soon be living to 150, but he says the main effort of his research is to allow us to live well into our eighties or nineties as productive, highly engaged individuals, who aren't in need of very expensive long term elder-care, don't suffer from end stage diseases like Alzheimer's, and who can continue to contribute to society and to the economy for many decades more.

"I expect most of us can live, be mentally alert, and capable of creative, productive activity well into our eighties and nineties," he said.

The award will be presented on September 20. The registration deadline is today.


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