Reid Robison, MD
When Robison announces, less than 30 seconds into a phone call, that "genomics is changing healthcare as we know it," he's not engaging in shameless self-hype. After all, half the cancer drugs that came to market in 2014 have a molecular target. What this means? Personalized medicine through genetics has arrived in cancer treatment and it's just a matter of time before other specialties follow suit.
But with the possibilities come a host of challenges, one of them oddly bourgeois in nature: Researchers will soon find themselves awash in genetics data to the extent that they'll have a tough time managing it and using it to make decisions. Enter Tute, a platform designed to help these and other potential audiences make better and faster sense of the information that will soon be available.
"The $1,000 genome was announced this year," Robison notes. "That was thought to be the tipping point for widespread adoption of genomics in healthcare and research, so hopefully the timing is right." Robison comes at his interest in the subject organically. He recalls an instance from his time as a doctor and professor at the University of Utah, where he studied the genetic makeup of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. An autistic child and his parents came to the clinic. "He was seven, low IQ, really impaired. I ordered two gene tests and they both came back negative—but the bill to the family was $6,000. I said, 'Never again will I do one at a time.' "
Tute, then, is betting that its software will help doctors and researchers get past the obstacle that is data overload. "It's been established that if you rapidly sequence the whole genome of a newborn, you can save tens of thousands of dollars—but much more importantly, you can get the kid treatment sooner," Robison says. "We're just now starting to see certain healthcare systems become open to implement this type of thing, in part due to this drop in the cost of sequencing and in part due to software like Tute's gaining trust. You watch—pretty soon every doctor will be a geneticist." —Larry Dobrow