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Leroy E. Hood, M.D., Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2002
For pioneering work in creating the technologies enabling the genetic revolution.

First Slice of Long-Term “100K” Study: Useful Data, No Health Outcomes

Via Xconomy | July 18, 2017

It’s easy to find hope that new biomedical technologies, from genetic sequencing to wearable fitness trackers, will lead to a healthier populace. It’s harder to find evidence. There has even been caution about the idea of analyzing the DNA of seemingly healthy people.

But a small study in Seattle called the Pioneer 100 Wellness Project, published in the August issue of Nature Biotechnology, aims to build evidence that comprehensive testing of healthy people can stave off disease. Study leaders include genomics pioneer Leroy “Lee” Hood, who for years has pushed for a data-intensive form of healthcare described with four P’s: predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

The data published yesterday take small steps toward that goal, but the number of participants—107 completed the nine-month course—makes the Pioneer study more like a pilot project. It demonstrates that sizable amounts of personal health data can be stored, tracked, and analyzed; that comprehensive testing might provide some early warnings of ill health; and that researchers mining the data might find new clues to pursue with future experiments. (For example, the authors note that lower levels of the blood protein cystine might point to higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease.)

But the short study was not designed to track health outcomes—the ultimate measure of whether a technology, service, or product is actually making people better. While it seems reasonable that testing people for hidden signs of disease should keep them healthier longer, it’s not so simple. The problem of over-diagnosis has prompted experts to rethink some guidelines, such as those for prostate and breast cancer screening. Tests can return false positives, or can lead to more procedures like invasive biopsies that carry their own risk… Continue reading.

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Institute for Systems Biology, Providence Team Up for Preventive Care

Via Xconomy | March 14, 2016

The principles and practices of scientific wellness and personalized medicine developed over the last 15 years at genomics pioneer Leroy Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology will get what Hood says is a first application in a large patient population, through an affiliation with Providence Health & Services.

The 3.3 million Providence patients—in Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington—will see their care transition from a focus on disease prevention to one of wellness preservation through a range of initiatives in partnership with the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB), the two Seattle-based non-profit groups announced Monday.

The 77-year-old Hood, a National Medal of Science winner whose inventions in DNA sequencing and synthesis were foundational to fields including genomics and proteomics, will become Providence’s chief science officer, while maintaining his role at the helm of the Institute for Systems Biology.

Hood described Providence as a leader in the shifting approach to healthcare. “This, combined with Providence’s vast network of hospitals, outstanding clinicians, and the rich collection of data from the more than 3.3 million patients they serve will help accelerate discovery of powerful insights into scientific wellness and disease,” Hood says in a statement. “Further, it will enable us for the first time ever to apply ISB-driven systems approaches for optimizing wellness and minimizing disease to patient care.”

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Accelerator Adds $11.7M, Reels in AbbVie, WuxiTech to Back Startups

Via Xconomy | September 29, 2015

Accelerator Corp. raised $51.1 million and made its long-awaited expansion into New York city last year, and at the time, CEO Thong Le mentioned that his company wasn’t done raising money for the effort. Today it’s added that cash, and a few new strategic investors to its pool of backers as well.

Accelerator, the 12-year-old startup creator from Seattle, has added $11.7 million in new cash to the fund it announced in July 2014. The new cash closes out Accelerator’s fourth fund at $62.8 million, and is supported by commitments from new investors AbbVie, WuXi PharmaTech, and Watson Fund. Former Takeda chief medical and scientific officer Tachi Yamada, currently a venture partner at Frazier Healthcare Partners, has joined Accelerator’s board as part of the funding. So have AbbVie executive James Sullivan and Peter Cheney, the former co-president of food manufacturing giant Mars Inc….

Accelerator started up in 2003 when Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology teamed with a group of biotech venture capitalists and Alexandria Real Estate Equities to get behind startup biotech ideas that were too early for traditional VC investment. Since its founding in 2003, Accelerator has put some $45 million in venture capital towards the 12 early-stage biotechs in Seattle. The firm has now raised about $100 million total since its inception.

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Lee Hood’s “100K” Long-Term Health Study Spins Out Startup

Via Xconomy | June 19, 2015

The 100K is being run by the Institute for Systems Biology, a nonprofit research group founded by Leroy “Lee” Hood, a pioneer of genetic sequencing and other biotech endeavors. The idea, which has grown from Hood’s advocacy of so-called “P4 medicine“— predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory—is to bring many forms of new technology to bear, including full genome sequencing, microbiome screening, and fitness tracking through wearable devices, to paint as complete a picture as possible of all the participants’ health.

The program aims to monitor everyone to understand what constitutes wellness, or illness, or a transition between the two. Participants in the study are also paired with a coach to give health-related advice.

The first group of 107 have just completed one year, and their data are being analyzed. One of the 107, University of Washington computer scientist Ed Lazowska, told Xconomy the participation has already paid off in two ways. “From the first blood work, I learned that the level of mercury in my blood was distressingly high,” Lazowska said, but a conversation with his coach for the study brought out his habit of eating tuna sushi three days a week. Switching to salmon cut his blood mercury in half in a couple of months, Lazowska said.

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Seattle Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Via Xconomy | May 7, 2015

Seattle biotech leaders gathered at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Wednesday received a generally sunny view of the industry in the region, despite the ongoing laments about our lack of a true anchor tenant and lackluster state-level support.

The event culminated with Leroy Hood, president of the Institute for Systems Biology, who gave an update on a decades-long “longitudinal” comprehensive survey of the state of health of up to 100,000 people. Results from the first 100 volunteers are revealing what Hood described as lots of unforeseen connections in the data. He termed them “the dark matter of human physiology.”

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To Take on New York, Accelerator Makes Big Changes

Via Xconomy | August 14, 2014

Talk to anyone involved in the New York biotech ecosystem, and it’s clear what’s missing: startups. The big city is just too expensive, entrepreneurs and their backers say—just try finding an affordable one bedroom apartment in Manhattan, let alone lab space—so a number of promising biotech ideas either stay untapped or get snatched up by investors in other cities.

That’s why, despite consistently posting the third highest total of NIH grant dollars of any state in the country (behind, of course, Massachusetts and California), New York lags far behind in total biotech venture dollars. In 2013, for instance, venture firms invested a total of $135 million in New York biotechs—a fraction of the amounts garnered by life sciences startups in Boston ($933 million) and San Francisco ($1.15 billion), according to the National Venture Capital Association.

In recent years, a concerted effort has gotten underway to give Gotham a fighting chance to keep those companies. New York’s research institutions, partly out of desperation, partly out of changes in leadership, have evolved to embrace the idea of working together and with industry to commercialize the ideas of their scientists and professors. Collaborative efforts have sprung up all over the city, from the New York Genome Center to the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, to try to harness the city’s financial and research firepower. Institutions like Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College have established their own internal funds to give their research a chance to cross the translational gap that dooms so many promising projects. Incubators now exist in West Harlem and Brooklyn.

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