International Science Workshop: Bioinformatics in Personalized Medicine

February 2012

The U.S-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, in partnership with the Florida International University, the Technion, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, convened an international science workshop focusing on knowledge mining and bioinformatics tools to advance personalized diagnostics and therapeutics with the support of the U.S. National Science Foundation on February 4th and 5th in Florence, Italy. The workshop scientific steering committee includes Dr. Naphtali Rishe, Dr. Yelena Yesha and Dr. Eddy Karnieli. The workshop was facilitated by Ron Ribitzky.

The workshop was very successful and included an interdisciplinary group of 40 computer scientists and clinicians representing the United States, Israel, Canada, Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands and Germany. We held four scientific sessions focusing on the policy implications of implementing personalized diagnostics and therapeutics based on big data analysis, the technological challenges facing computer scientists and doctors in creating useable systems, the challenges in utilizing big data analysis to predict future health outcomes and the needs of clinicians for utilizing big data in their practices.

The workshop concluded with a long session analyzing and linking the outcomes of our scientific panels to develop a proceeding which fleshes out the conclusions of the mixed computer scientist/clinician group about the future of developing diagnostics and therapeutics. In general, the interdisciplinary group concluded the personalized diagnostics and therapeutics, based on ‘big data’ analysis that includes patient genomic data combined with natural health history and cohort data will revolutionize the ways that clinicians are able to diagnose and treat patients. In order to reach that point, policies must be in place that incentivize the use of these personalized diagnostics by clinicians, computer software must be designed that not only integrates all the available data but that makes it useable to clinical experts and finally that training of doctors will be key to making this a reality.

Moving forward, our next steps will be to write, disseminate and deliver the scientific proceedings of the workshop to the National Science Foundation and broader community, including potentially presenting our results at future international medical and technology conferences. In the longer term, the scientific steering committee, will be developing a Springer Verlag Notes in Computer Science publication fully developing the results of our work in Florence.