The Extinction of Chronic Disease with Dr. Lee Hood, Co-founder of Institute for Systems Biology

Transcript:

Dr. Lee Hood

If we succeed, the largest transformation of healthcare would be essentially if we could eliminate all chronic diseases. So we spend 86% of our $4 trillion a year in health care on chronic diseases. And we know from these phenol measurements, that we can actually identify molecules in the blood, that tell us you’ve transitioned to a disease, up to four or five years before you clinically diagnose the disease. So this gives us the option to think about therapies to reverse the disease very early, and never let it get to a clinical stage. And if we could do that, you would have the end of chronic disease.

Alan Olsen

Welcome to American Dreams I’m visiting here today with Dr. Lee Hood. Dr. Hood, welcome to today’s show.

Dr. Lee Hood

Pleasure to be here.

Alan Olsen

So for the listeners, can you give us some your background and how you started out your career. So the major highlights of your journey?

Dr. Lee Hood

Oh, I could I was born in Missoula, Montana, grew up in Montana, went as an undergraduate to Caltech to get a good founding and physics and chemistry and biology. I went to medical school at Johns Hopkins because I was interested in human biology and figured that was the best way to learn it. After that, I came back to Caltech and did a Ph. D degree in molecular immunology, understanding molecular aspects of how the immune system works. I then went to NIH for three years during the Vietnam War, and was a senior investigator in the Cancer Institute’s and finally decided to go back in 1972, Caltech, where I was an assistant professor for 22 years, went up through the ranks. And then in 1992, Bill Gates actually persuaded me to move to Seattle and start a brand new type of biology department called cross disciplinary department named molecular biotechnology and it was enormous ly successful for eight years. But I really wanted to build on top of that as Systems Biology Institute that is looking at biology in holistic, global manner, with big data approaches and things like that. And I found that the University of Washington bureaucracy was pretty challenging to, to well build new things upon so I went and started the Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit that pioneered this whole field of systems biology, which is very widely distributed now. 20, some years later, and everything. And I spent the next eight teen years as its precedent and, and pushed the, for my own personal research, an interest in the complexity of human beings and how to decipher that complexity. And this led to what I’ve called precision population health. And starting in, starting in about 2015, I started a company called arrow fail, which could bring scientific or quantitative wellness to consumers using a data driven approach, analyzing your genome and your fino, which I can explain in just a moment, every six months, and over a four year period, we gather both 5000 people and 5000 data clouds. And those data clouds over the past four or five years have generated 25 major papers and major journals that have given us deep insights into the science of wellness and the science of prevention, prevention of disease and from these beginnings, then I created in 1921, a nonprofit institute called phenom hell, whose mission, basically, is to persuade the government to have a second genome wide project entitled the Human foenum Project where we’ll analyze a million people over a 10 year period, to generate data that will both enable us to strikingly improve the quality of their health. And, and to, to demonstrate that we can save striking numbers of dollars in health care costs, as we shift the focus from health care from a disease orientation, which is dominant in today’s Health do a wellness and prevention orientation. So that’s a quick summary of how I’ve gotten to where I am.

Alan Olsen

You know, it’s interesting I was, I was one of the 5000 was in the air Ville, one of the airboat clients that had nap, and the DNA in the wellness, and he had coaches on the side. So I, I’m just connecting that today with with us on the show. But thank you. So, you know, this health and wellness care is a huge area. And you are truly a pioneer in helping to, you know, lead science through, you know, the next space, moving from prevention of disease to being more proactive. How has our view of wellness changed in the past, in the past years?

Dr. Lee Hood

Well, let me extend that question to the past 5000 years, okay. Because it’s, it’s really interesting, if you go back before the Greeks, and ask, what was health? How did they view health or wellness, they had no concept for it, because there was they didn’t understand any way you could control it. And if you can’t control something, you can’t really talk about it at all. And what the Greeks did was really remarkable. They, for the first time realized that there were three elements to wellness. So one they called the fates. The second, they said, it’s your behavior. And the third is your environment. And what is ironic, is if you change fates to your genome, if we knew your genome plus your behavior plus your environment, that’s exactly what the Phenom is, and what it measures today. So in a sense, they hit it exactly right. And in the succeeding 2500 years, all we did were subtle refinements of your behavior and of your health. So diet, exercise, those kinds of things, all really emerged. And as I indicated, the fundamental change that has really transformed how we think about health came in about 2015, when we took this data approach to following and assessing and optimizing the health trajectory of each individual, which was reflected in this company, called arrow fail that that you actually participated in. And I would argue, if we succeed in transferring the focus on healthcare from its current disease focus, to a wellness and prevention focus, that’ll be the largest paradigm shift ever seen in healthcare. And I think what’s really very interesting about this data rich healthcare is it can be applied to the more conventional health care. And that deals with what the Greeks did. It deals with diet, with exercise with sleep with stress, those kinds of things. What a data driven approach can do for you, is you can individualize and optimize for each of those things, how the individual should perform, what kind of exercises, how you should focus, your diet, what nature of sleep and extensive sleep, all of those are things we can now begin to optimize with a data driven understanding of the complexity of the human body.

Alan Olsen

You know, you brought up economics before I went I want to revisit this. So what exactly is economics? And why is that important for wellness?

Dr. Lee Hood

That’s a great question. So the genome is the DNA that’s present in your 23 pairs of chromosomes and every single cell, and what the DNA is, is the source code for your normal development, and aging. Okay? What the Phenom is, is how you appear at all the different stages of your life, starting as an infant and going all the way through to old age. And so in a sense, you have an infinite number of genomes, right? Well, we can measure the relative contribution of three things to your phenol at any point in time. That is the contribution of your genome, the contribution of your behavior, and the contribution of your environment. And essentially, the measurements we make for the Phenom, assess those three types of things. And what we’re doing is learning to integrate them together. So they give us a holistic picture of what you are in where we need to take you next to optimize health to optimize wellness.

Alan Olsen

So what is the largest transformation of healthcare?

Dr. Lee Hood

Well, I think, again, if we succeed, the largest transformation of healthcare would be essentially if we could eliminate all chronic diseases. So we spend 86% of our $4 trillion a year in health care on chronic diseases. And we know from these phenol measurements, that we can actually identify molecules in the blood, that tell us you’ve transitioned to a disease, up to four or five years before you clinically diagnosed the disease. So this gives us the option to think about therapies to reverse the disease very early, and never let it get to a clinical stage. And if we could do that, you would have the end of chronic disease.

Alan Olsen

There’s a term out there called P4 for medicine. What is that?

Dr. Lee Hood

So when I started the Institute for Systems Biology, I focused the science, on biology and later on disease. But in thinking conceptually about healthcare, I came to the conclusion that healthcare should have four central features, prediction, prevention, personalization, and participation, okay. And the first three features prediction, prevention and personalization. They’re about science. They’re about what you have to do to change individuals and so forth. But the fourth be participatory centers on the question of how do we persuade the individual patient, the physician, the healthcare leaders, the healthcare technologists, the health care regulators, and and politicians, that to participate in this new kind of, of health care that’s focused on wellness and on prevention. And that is infinitely more difficult to achieve than the first three pings. We know how to do that science, how to persuade people that they should do, what’s good for them, is a very different kind of thing. And especially, it’s easier to persuade kids. So I would argue, K through 12 education is really important in beginning to have people understand how they can control and direct their own health. And in fact, I started with ISP in 2000, immediately put together a six person group that handled K through 12 education and they’ve done that for the last 23 years now, and this past year, working together with students and teachers. We’ve put together a 20 module course for juniors or seniors on health, that tells you about systems biology, and systems medicine. And these modules will teach these kids, more than 95% of physicians know about the future of medicine. And we’ve created it in a modular way. So that can be exported to other places. And of course, I’ve written the textbook now, when systems biology and systems education that’ll be very useful for teachers that want to teach this course as isn’t kind of how to book and everything. So. So I think the whole process of education is key. But as kids are open, flexible and willing to, to believe, how do you handle adults that spend 90% of their television time watching football and baseball and basketball, and that’s a different kind of challenge. And, and we have ideas about how to do it, and we, we can talk about those. But you know, it’s like more about the science.

Alan Olsen

It’s interesting, the collection of all the big data and the gathering of knowledge. You know, it helps us to understand, you know, how we got there. And I think you hit on something very important, which is where I what I say the wisdom of healthcare, and that is the application of the knowledge of how do you get the old dog to learn new tricks and exactly behaviors. So I’m gonna look forward to those little tidbits as we is we learn more through research.

Dr. Lee Hood

Two more things. One, yeah, I have a book coming out from Harvard University Press. That’s that is called the age of scientific wellness that describes this whole vision. And once you can do today, and how we have what we have to do to move it forward to a more complete view of the health care opportunities. And I hired a Italian film documentary specialist to do a film on 5000 years of wellness starting with his I said, the Greeks basically, and coming up to the forward time, but putting it in a artistic and attractive, holistic sense that maybe can reach out to some of these adults, and touch their artistic soul, if not their intellectual, scientific soul, and so forth.

Alan Olsen

What are the largest barriers to data driven health today?

Dr. Lee Hood

What what are the biggest barriers in health today?

Alan Olsen

Yes,

Dr. Lee Hood

I would say the largest barriers have to do with our personal choices about what we eat, how we exercise, how we sleep, how we expose ourselves to stress, and how we fail to realize that all of those things can be controlled. And with a data driven health, we can go way beyond kind of conventional things, and move you to a point where you’re going to age far more gracefully. And I think in time, we’ll be able to say to most people, Look, if you practice scientific wellness, we can almost certainly guarantee you an extra 20 years of productive life, where you’re mentally agile, where you’re physically capable, and where you can be excited about what you’re doing and how you’re doing. And a really interesting question that arises, if I give you 20 extra years of life, what are you going to do with it? And I think part of having that potential is you have to find something to do that’s really going to excite you. If playing golf for 20 years, is that thing that’s great. You’ll live 20 And you’ll you’ll be able to play call for 20 years but it maybe possible that many people would want to do more creative and original and interactive kinds of things. And all those possibilities opened up as well.

Alan Olsen

And I think you’re hitting on a very important aspect of aging, I can tell you that my father was diagnosed with terminal is a terminal condition, give him three years to live. And then all of a sudden, he went on hospice. And after six years on hospice, they kicked him out of hospice, because he said, hospice is not for people who are getting better. And so as we talked about it, he says, he says, You got to find purpose in life. He says, I just got better, because I found exciting things to do.

Dr. Lee Hood

That’s exactly right

I think one of the dangers of retirement, is you lose the major vector of purpose you’ve had for most your life. And most people are just not prepared for gosh, I have all this. I mean, they think they are, but when it really comes down to it, it isn’t all that satisfying. Just play golf and tennis. Okay, what else? And you’re gonna have to do what I mean. You need to be challenged intellectually, as well as physically, to be happy. And in my view, anyway.

Alan Olsen

Dr. Hood, it’s been a pleasure having you with us today, here on the show. And I want to just wrap up with the final question, though. It’s kind of a review of the things that we’ve talked about already. But how will David data driven health deal with five challenges of contemporary health care such as quality aging, population, explosion of chronic disease, spiraling costs, and racial, any inequality?

Dr. Lee Hood

Well, that’s a mouthful question, I must say, I think data driven health will increase the quality, because it will drive all of us toward a real reality of wellness. And most of us today are probably at 30% of our wellness potential, and we can raise you and elevate you. And it’s that it’s going to give you this extra 20 years of life later on. Okay. I think, and the idea that we can prevent chronic diseases is going to transform the quality of our life. I mean, a third of the people have either pre diabetes or diabetes. Suppose that goes away, and we don’t have to worry about that anymore. obesity and cardiovascular disease and, and the most terrifying of all, are neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, which robbed you of your, your intellect, and not just your physicality. The second thing is, how do we deal with the whole aging process? Well, I, I mentioned to you that from the data, we’ve been able to get an algorithm that lets us determine one’s biological age. And to show the younger you are relative to your chronological age, the better you’re aging, and to show that the elements we use to calculate that metric can be used to optimize the aging process for each individual. So the idea that we, for example, in near Vail, one of the calculations we did is we took all 5000 people, and we looked at their biological agents beginning and at the end. And what we were able to show is the average person lost about a year and a half of biological age, for each year, they stayed in the air of Hill program, and one of my friends lost 10 years of biological age. So I mean, that what that means in practical terms is a year younger, and B are farther away from ever having to worry about chronic diseases. So number three, the question you asked is chronic disease. How will we deal with that? Well, if we can detect it early, and reverse it before it ever comes up? Clinically, we’ve we’ve dealt with chronic diseases. And that’s exactly what we plan to do with the million person project. I’d mentioned. The idea of costs that we’re spending 4 trillion a year that we spend more than any other nation in the top 20. And yet the quality of our healthcare is at the very bottom says that we need to restructure our health care in major way Phase away from a payment system where a physician deals with patients wanted to time and promotes interactions as much as possible because they make more money to a system in which the physician is given a population of patients to care for until your payment is in proportion now while you care for the 1000 patients who have a subpopulation so that that’s how I think we’re going to have to change things. And then finally, it we’ve heard a lot recently about the fact that the data on which medicine is based, is largely selected from Caucasian males. And we have to diversify that with regard to sex. But we have to diversify with regard to race, African Americans and Latinos and Indian Americans and the like. And again, the million person project that we’re generating is going to recruit those people in proportion to their ratios in the American population as a whole. So I think we can deal with those racial barriers. So the data driven approach to medicine will let us absolutely transform in every way, what it means to be healthy.

Alan Olsen

Thank you, Dr. Hood. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here on American Dreams today.

Dr. Lee Hood

It’s been a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you, Alan

Dr. Lee Hood on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Dr. Lee Hood

A world-renowned scientist and recipient of the National Medal of Science in 2011, Dr. Leroy Hood co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in 2000, served as its first President from 2000-2017 and is a Professor and Chief Strategy Officer. In 2016, ISB affiliated with Providence where Dr. Hood now serves as Emeritus Science Advisor.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Academy of Medicine. Of the more than 6,000 scientists worldwide who belong to one or more of these academies, Dr. Hood is one of only 20 people elected to all three.

He received his MD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his PhD in biochemistry from Caltech. Dr. Hood was a faculty member at Caltech from 1967-1992, serving for 10 years as the Chair of Biology. During this period, he and his colleagues developed four sequencer and synthesizer instruments that paved the way for the Human Genome Project’s successful mapping and understanding of the human genome. He and his students also deciphered many of the complex mechanisms of antibody diversification. In 1992, Dr. Hood founded and chaired the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Washington, the first academic department devoted to cross-disciplinary biology.

Dr. Hood is currently carrying out studies in Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and wellness. He is pioneering a 1 million patient genome/phenome project, and is bringing scientific (quantitative) wellness to the contemporary U.S. health care system.

Dr. Hood has played a role in founding 15 biotechnology companies including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Arivale, and Nanostring. He has co-authored textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology, genetics, and systems biology.

In addition to having received 18 honorary degrees from prestigious universities in the U.S. and abroad, Dr. Hood has published more than 850 peer-reviewed articles and currently holds 36 patents.

Dr. Hood is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including the Lasker Award for Studies of Immune Diversity (1987), the Kyoto Prize in advanced technology (2002), the Heinz Award for pioneering work in Systems Biology (2006), the National Academy of Engineering Fritz J. and Delores H. Russ Prize for developing automated DNA sequencing (2011), and the National Academy of Science Award for Chemistry in Service to Society (2017).

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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